Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – ‘Modern Ruin’ (International Death Cult) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 04:00

Frank Carter - Modern RuinI first came face to face with the phenomenon that is Frank Carter a little under a year ago, when he played one of the most intense and passionate shows I had seen in quite some time, literally bringing one of my favourite venues to its knees while simultaneously doing its best to rip the roof off the damn joint. I was, of course, already familiar with his work and the massive contribution he has made to the revival of the British hardcore scene through his time in the mighty Gallows. It was quite night… one which my solicitor (honestly!) still raves about to this day…

 

But, that was then and this was now, and we are now presented with this, the long-awaited, in the Carter fangirl circles anyway, second album from his latest project… and, it’s here that I’m going to pause, wind back a few words and cite that often over-used phrase “difficult second album”. I say that because, it’s a difficult album to listen to first time around, as it lacks the ball-grabbing immediacy of the Rattlesnakes’ debut ‘Blossoms’.

 

In fact, ‘Modern Ruin’ is a much more thoughtful album, veering, often dramatically, from the pure gut-wrenching hardcore for which Carter and his bandmates are known to the more alt-rock/indie vibe of the singer’s Pure Love period. I have listened to it a few times before sitting down to type these words, and been struggling to find one or two which would encapsulate what I have been hearing… but, finally, they came to me: introspectively extroverted. It feels like an album on which Carter is looking deep into the innermost recesses of his soul, trying to come to terms with the demons fighting within him, while also looking outward at the despair and disintegration of the world around him.

 

 

This mood of despair and introversion is set right at the beginning with the melancholic, simple and psychedelia-tinged “intro” of ‘Bluebelle’ as Carter laments “I was told that growing old/Was something that you could control/Now I know that was all lies”. It’s a theme of betrayal and mortality which is refrained several times throughout the duration of the remaining 11 tracks. ‘Lullaby’ starts off with a crunching riff, but it’s immediately obviously that the band are straying ever so slightly from the pure hardcore path, as the main riff is very much based in power pop sensibilities, and the richness of the song is enhanced by its building of multiple layers of light and dark, another effect which they craft well throughout the album.

 

‘Snakes Eyes’ definitely has a punkier edge to it, but the main melody, and especially Carter’s delivery, are much more clean cut and possess an indie-pop sensibility: the song writhes and twists, but actually seems to lack any sense of purpose. ‘Vampires’ sees them going back to their punk roots in style, punchy and in your face with an acerbic vocal and huge bottom-ended, fuzzed-out groove.

 

 

‘Wild Flowers’ is a huge song in every department, from its soaring melody through Carter’s omnipresent sense of lyrical irony: “Her skin white like cocaine but soft as silk/And her hair as black as a reservoir”. Not for the first time, nor the last, does Carter compare love to drugs: “I don’t believe that there is an end/But if there is I will climb out and dive in again”. ‘Acid Veins’ could almost be a companion piece, as it extrapolates the same theme: “I want to feel it/The acid in my veins… Come and give me your love” he almost pleads, supported by a suitably stripped back main musical theme which peaks with some brilliantly timed title-winning right hooks.

 

 

The theme of love and despair continues with the violent and irony-filled shakedown of ‘God Is My Friend’, which also address the subject of depression, the feeling of everything you touch turning to shit and the desire just to escape, by whatever means, but also does so in a way which ultimately expresses the hope that the ultimate escape is from the conspiracy of circumstances. ‘Jackals’ is a fast and furious explosion of hardcore fury, clocking in at just under a minute, while ‘Thunder’ is epic in its theme, scope and delivery, as Carter directly addresses the state of the world and especially in the Middle East, as he questions the blindness and brainwashing of modern religions: “They are dangerous/But they don’t think they are wrong”. It won’t stand up there with the great anti-war/protest songs, but it succinctly sums up where we are as a so-called civilization standing at two-and-a-half minutes to midnight.

 

‘Real Life’ addresses just that, with the staccato main riff underpinning Carter’s spitting (and spite-fuelled) description of a relationship falling apart: “I want to you to break my heart/So I know love” he demands. The title track is a total stonker… musically the least diverse, and therefore possibly most predictable, song on the album, it’s vicious and snarling, thumping you in the ribs while also appealing to both your heart and brain, while closer ‘Neon Rust’ is a massive, sweeping soundscape filled with a sense of forlorn retrospection and built on a haunting guitar theme which evokes a sense of passive aggression.

 

 

It could be argued that ‘Modern Ruin’ is a concept album, as there seems to be a continuous stream of consciousness running through it, linking each song, with the next continuing but diverting the message of the one before it. It is an intense album on many levels – although the rawness we have come to expect from FCATR may be, in places, buried beneath a more polished, almost poppy, veneer. It’s certainly, as I said at the top of this review, a thoughtful album, and a thought, if not debate, provoking one. It gets its reward with repeated listenings.

 

‘Modern Ruin’ is out now.

 

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes tour the UK and Ireland next month:

 

Thursday 16 March– Norwich, Norwich Waterfront 

Friday 17 March– Manchester, Academy 2 

Saturday 18 March– Newcastle, Riverside 

Sunday 19 March– Glasgow, St Lukes

Tuesday 21 March– Belfast, Oh Yeah Music Centre 

Wednesday 22 March– Dublin, Academy 2

Friday 24 March– Leeds, Stylus

Saturday 25 March– Birmingham, Asylum

Sunday 26 March– Cardiff, Globe

Monday 27 March– Exeter, Phoenix

Wednesday 29 March– Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms

Friday 30 March– London, Koko

 

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