Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
End Of Suffering
English vocalist Frank Carter has chiseled himself out a sufficiently compelling, fiery career anchored by the concrete slab foundation of his tenure with blistering UK hardcore punk Gallows (which he parted ways with in 2011) and elevated his palate to a no-regrets radio rock sheen with one-off Pure Love before setting up shop comfortably between the two with his most recent project, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes. Their third release, End of Suffering, definitely nudges matters even closer to Pure Love territory than they’ve ventured in the past, but not without a generous dose of static-sizzle guitars and Carter’s characteristic Brit punk snarl to remind us where they have been.
Before getting into the record itself, it must be stressed that Frank Carter is more than a singer, he is a force of nature. In live performance, the man is fierce and fearless, risking life and limb in daunting crowd surfing exhibitions and belting his desperate, organic petrolfire lyrics with incendiary stage presence. His voice is a sonic sledgehammer wielded by whichever band happens to be behind him, and the Rattlesnakes are first and foremost a banger live hardcore punk rock act. Their reputation can’t help but set the listener up for an expectation of at least a couple cuts of piss n’ blood-spattered punk rock & roll on your plate before the affair is through. Unfortunately, that side of the band remains thoroughly on the backburner, the pungent odor of simmering punk but lingering in the air as a helping of hard modern rock with a chrome radio sheen is brought to the table.
“Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider” kicks things off with full, round bass tone and crawling, brooding verses that burst into a crunchy electric bridge, the crackling guitars and sweeping synthesizers an instant indicator that Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, QOTSA) is seated comfortably behind the mixing board. Carter’s voice begins soft and blossoms into full force over course of the song, a potent formula that thankfully carries throughout many of the stronger tracks on the record (druggy slice of heaven “Angel Wings”, amped up strummer “Supervillain”). His voice climbs from intimate lull to a howl of urgency that is often reminiscent of the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park and Stone Temple Pilots fame at his best.
“Tyrant Lizard King” come second. A plasma guitar fuzzed, Muse-channeling dinosaur stomp, the tune climaxes with whammy twisted lead guitars swooping in for an ear-ringing strafing run, reminiscent of diving fighter jets and searing atomic Godzilla breath, although the excess shrill guitar overdubs do come off as a touch excessive and noisy. Nevertheless, this cut straight up stomps the listener, and one can’t help but wish there were more tracks on this record with a similar swagger and bite.
“Heartbreaker” comes closer to punk rock than most other tracks on End of Suffering, Gang of Four style compressed drums chugging through the ether on the heels of QOTSA desert rock guitars. “Crowbar”, the lead single, is an exemplary showcase of the band’s punk rock aggression channeled through a radio rock sieve. The first four tracks on the record come the closest to a characteristic Rattlesnakes sound, and from this point on the album takes a turn for the derivative. “Love Games” and “Anxiety” come across like particularly strong AWOLNATION or 21 Pilots songs, respectively, complete with fitting keys and drum treatment. “Latex Dreams”, on the other hand, comes off as an Arctic Monkeys B-side, albeit with Alex Turner’s lyrical tapestries replaced by Carter’s edgier lyrical treatment, a theme also present in “Kitty Sucker” and “Little Devil”. Though this may be a leftover habit of preference from their hardcore punk roots, these songs in particular suffer from the inclusion of frankly distracting, I would go as far to say Buckcherry-reminiscent imagery.
Closing with a somber note, the tearjerker title track “End of Suffering” puts the project down for bed on linens of acoustic guitars and tender, naked vocals by Carter, in addition to clips of his own toddler daughter’s voice during the outro. It is an emotionally striking moment but not necessarily original or interesting as a whole. There are tracks on End of Suffering that I will undoubtedly return to, but something tells me that Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes may have left something volatile, dangerous and possibly more interesting simmering on the range and served what they thought people wanted to receive, rather than what comes naturally to them. I look forward to their next product, and I hope it stings so good a little more when it hits. 3.5/5
~ Review by M. Stonefish
Contributing Reviewer for f28 Media