‘Happy’ never really suited Frank Carter. That’s why it was such a shock to see him trade in his position as Gallows frontman for the uplifting stadium indie of Pure Love. While they weren’t bad per se, they didn’t sit well with many longtime Gallows fans, eventually leading to their dissolution in 2014. Now, fuelled by the frustration felt at Pure Love’s unpopularity, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes sees the frontman back on factory settings once again.
Don’t let that rather airy, fluffy album title fool you though, it’s in no way indicative of the music within. Indeed, the combination of an ex-Gallows frontman and members of such Brit-hardcore luminaries as The Ghost Of A Thousand yields exactly the results that one would expect, namely a potent concoction of venom-flecked misanthropy. The likes of Fangs and Juggernaut are prime examples of this – kinetic, rabid and with Carter vocally at his unhinged best. In fact, if anything is suitable to act as substantial proof that Pure Love’s placidity has not had a detrimental effect, it’s these ten tracks. Loss goes by in a flurry of panic and catharsis, while Trouble has a definite Sex Pistols vibe, even down to Carter’s Johnny Rotten-style sneer, and Rotten Blossom is an in-depth exploration into mortality disguised as a rollicking punk track. It’s not easy listening by any means, but is undoubtedly thrilling throughout.
It’s largely down to the relationship between the lyrics and music. While lyrically Blossom is packed with broadsides at anything and everything, musically it’s incredibly melodic, taking heavy cues from thrashy punk and the lighter end of hardcore. The two contrasting levels of extremity may initially seem mismatched, and ever so occasionally they are, but it’s purpose is largely to amplify Carter’s contributions, something that it does with flying colours.
If truth be told, Blossom‘s most affecting moments come when the music is turned down. Beautiful Death ramps up the intensity to maximum in an uncomfortable but enthralling manner, while the album’s closer, the rather self-explanatory I Hate You, sees Carter over woozy, lurching gutter blues, dropping F- and C-bombs like nobody’s business, and with the eloquence and nonchalance of a man who has made spitting blood an art form. Hardly radio-friendly then, but all the more exciting for its ire.
With The Rattlesnakes, it finally seems as though Carter has formed a project that both he and his followers can get behind, and in Blossom, they’ve created the best introduction possible. It acts as the ideal midpoint between Gallows and Pure Love, splicing together the former’s vitriol with the latter’s knack for a big tune for a new sound with the best elements of both. It’s the most exhilarating Carter has sounded in a long while – let’s hope then, that third time proves to be a charm.
For fans of: The Ghost Of A Thousand, Beartooth, Wounds
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Blossom’ by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes is released on 14th August on International Death Cult.