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Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - 'End Of Suffering' Album Review


1. Why A Butterfly Can't Love A Spider

2. Tyrant Lizard King

3. Heartbreaker

4. Crowbar

5. Love Games

6. Anxiety

7. Angel Wings

8. Super Villain

9. Latex Dreams

10. Kitty Sucker

11. Little Devil

12. End Of Suffering

Frank Carter has been hitting audiences hard over the past fifteen years or so, first with The Gallows, then Pure Love and finally with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. He's well known with pummeling the crowd at his shows with his version of Hardcore Punk and an energy level that would make Iggy Pop look lethargic (his Newcastle show on his last tour at Think Tank saw the venue use barriers, something rarely employed there, just check out the video for "Anxiety" for proof).

When a digital copy of his new album 'End Of Suffering' turned up in my inbox I was quite excited, expecting a musical explosion of energy. What I heard took me by surprise and stole my breath.

The hardcore brutality of his past releases are stripped back, leaving only it's attitude present. It's still intense but that's down to the delivery and the threat in the music. There's melody and intent but there's something even more then that. To find the answer to that question we need to look to Frank Carter himself.

This could be the most important album of his career. Why? Because Carter is opening himself wide and allowing everything inside to come spilling out in an album that feels so incredibly personal, its honesty sometimes makes for uneasy listening. By that though I believe it's a good thing. Good art, good music and good performances should always have something that make you feel slightly uncomfortable, like you've just witnessed someone sharing the deepest, darkest parts of their soul with you and you don't quite know how to respond to them.

It's more than just an album. 'End Of Suffering' presents itself as equal parts confessional and counselling session. Carter's lyrics are the engine that this album runs on and there's almost a feeling of guilt and shame here, a mix of bold hedonist and apologetic victim. The fantastically named opening song "Why A Butterfly Can't Love A Spider" sets the tone for the album. It's almost laid back for the band with Frank's vocals showing a melodic range not really seen since his Pure Love days, before breaking into a crescendo of controlled chaos. The chorus lyrics "When I'm high I'm in heaven, when I'm low I'm in hell" send a chill down your spine, snaking it's way to prey on your insecurities. It's the dichotomy that captures you; part sadistic and part masochistic, as you feel even Frank isn't sure which side of the dark line he's on anymore.

Second 'single' comes half way through the album, the previously mentioned "Anxiety", and it's another keystone song. Carter has gone on record recently about his struggle with the mental health condition and how he managed to try and fight it. Again, we're lured in with dreamy verses, a stillness decorated with the scars of someone who has definitely 'been there'. They talk with brutal honesty about what a headfuck this illness is, and how it will make you feel bad about yourself for feeling good. The first time I heard it I got chills as I identified with it immediately. Then the anthemic chorus hits you, a suckerpunch of "it doesn't have to stay this way and there's a better place for you and me where we can be happy." This is darkness is balanced by euphoria again, that dual nature that seems to run deeply through the album.

The other songs on here are corkers too. Morden guitar legend Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) lends a fresh six string attack to the Godzilla sized stomp of "Tyrant Lizard King" whilst "Crowbar" opens with throbbing bass sounds that almost make it sound like a bastardised version of The Prodigy before it explodes with the menace and violence of a Martin Scorsese film. "Angels Wings" has a sexy disco swing while Carter sings of crashing down from a hedonistic heaven before giving us the pretty bleak self hatred "I feel like a good man but I'm a fucking heathen" of "Super Villain".

The backing of The Rattlesnakes (guitarist Dean Richardson, bassist Tom Barclay and drummer Gareth Grover) have worked hard to create the perfect soundscapes for their frontman with these songs. There's restraint and subtlety, there's violence and bombast, all at the perfect time in each song. I've listened to this album a good few times now and each time I do I pick up on something new, a new approach and feel to each song that's refreshing every time you listen to it.

The title track wraps up the album (the CD has an additional bonus song) with a broken, battered and beaten protagonist looking hard at himself lyrically. Does he want redemption or has he resigned himself to self destruction? I don't honestly know, you'll have to ask Frank Carter that, but even then he might not know the answer. It's almost like asking "how much do you want to be saved?" when you're not even sure if you can do anything. It's not completely bleak but it's also not an album that you're going to put on to kickstart a party (unless you have some seriously messed up parties). Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have created an album of serious merit that they should be incredibly proud of. It's not an easy album but it's something you can take a lot away from, at times resembling the Manic Street Preachers 'The Holy Bible.' It's anthemic but so incredibly personal at times that you feel that it's you that they've written 'End Of Suffering' about.

The 2019 album of the year has just had another great contender added to it's list.

Review - Scott Hamilton

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