In the early 90s many of the pioneering thrash bands began to alter their sound. One route was to take the more technical approach while others started flirting with what would become known as groove metal. Flotsam and Jetsam took a path similar to Metallica and Megadeth in that they slowed down the tempos and embraced a more traditional heavy metal sound. Cuatro, on the other hand, while perhaps more accessible compared to earlier efforts, is a severely underrated album.
On this album Flotsam embrace other music elements, yet without sacrificing their integrity. To be honest the music here is more reminiscent of something akin to Alice in Chains than Pantera. Overall its very melodic, but still aggressive and quite technical in certain areas. There are a few thrashy moments such as on the killer opener Natural Enemies, Never to Reveal, and Hypodermic Midnight Snack, but that isn’t the main focus on this record. A greater emphasis is placed on the vocal patterns and melodies of Eric A.K., who also gives one of his best vocal performances in the band’s history.
That isn’t to say the band has lost focus of their metallic roots, and far from it as there are some devastatingly heavy riffs at play. Swatting at Flies is such a brooding and powerful song. Even Wading Through the Darkness, which is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, has such tremendous weight and emotion behind its melodic dynamics. The guitar leads on the album are quite stunning and well crafted, and each song is memorable in some fashion, especially in regards to the strong lyrics throughout.
The sound they have on this album feels more like a true progression instead of a rushed commercialization. I can’t really compare it to their latter efforts because I haven’t heard much of their newer material, but anyone into their first two classics should give this one a chance. I may actually prefer it to ‘No Place For Disgrace’ now. I also find it to be a rather hard album to find, so definitely pick it up if you ever see it.