Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
(International Death Cult)
I’ve never met Frank Carter, but I get the sense that he struggles with doing things that he doesn’t fully believe in. After helping build Gallows into a Really Big Deal, he split with them due to artistic differences, before they started overindulging their love of goth and experimental music (for the record, I loved the last Gallows record). He started up Pure Love, a more melodic animal, but ended that to start up Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes for 2015’s return to blistering hardcore, Blossom. Through all of this change, Carter has always displayed an unbridled range of emotions, going from rage, fury, and even love. His cracking voice lends more authenticity to his lyrics. With his second record with The Rattlesnakes, ol’ Frank has seemed to hearken back to a more melodic approach, a la Pure Love, but there’s no doubt that Modern Ruin is a much different beast.
With the record, Carter has proved that he is a shape-shifting master: equally able to convey fury and disenfranchisement through stadium-sized anthems as he was screaming in a basement bar. With no disrespect to his past, this record is his best work yet, showcasing a surprisingly powerful singing voice that manages to work perfectly with the new musical style.
The Rattlesnakes (the actual band) also have a Hell of a bite to them, despite the melodic sheen. Their mix of post-punk fury, desert rock groove, and almost-hipster-approved danceability results in a wonderfully multi-faceted listen. The guitar tone reminds me of Muse’s Black Holes and Revelations (which is to say reeking of desert sand), with strong hints of Arctic Monkeys and House of Heroes. Actually, Modern Ruin often reminds me most of those two latter bands, with its ability to sound visceral and punk-fueled while also feeling very at home at the Summer festival circuit. What makes this album work especially well is how damn catchy the whole thing, and the mix of stoner punk, post-punk, and indie rock is ablaze. Songs like “Snake Eyes”, “Vampires”, “God Is My Friend” make me want to shake my hips and start a mosh pit in my office, both of which no one really should see.
Of course, the record touches on some really personal and profound topics, especially “Thunder”, which lends a voice to the refugee crisis. Were it not for a couple lackluster tracks (“Acid Veins”, “Real Life”, “Neon Rust”), we could mention this album among the great modern rock records. However, it merely dampens what is an otherwise fantastic record. The highs are high enough that the relative lows just pale in comparison, unfortunately.