Album Review: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Blossom

imageFrank Carter is indelibly linked to the genre of hardcore punk. He’s known for energy and ferocity, and nothing fuels such things like a difficult year. When we last heard from him, Carter was the frontman of Pure Love, and who knows, if things had gone differently for him, then there could have been a follow-up to 2013’s ‘Anthems’; but a shift in focus was necessary. Up until 2011, he was known as the leader of Gallows, with a reputation for being an uncompromising individual. Pure Love went on hiatus last year, but even before then, Carter had decided what he wanted to do next: return to what he did best. To quote ‘Network’, he was mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

His new project, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, is the antithesis of everything Pure Love stood for, though it would perhaps have been too on-the-nose to dub it “Pure Hate”. For a band with “rattlesnakes” in its name, their debut is appropriately venomous. Backed by ex-Height guitarist Dean Richardson and former Pure Love live members Tom Mitchener and Memby Jago (ex-The Ghost of a Thousand), Carter’s return to hardcore has resulted in an album that takes no prisoners. It’s an electrifying listen; from the arresting opening riff of ‘Juggernaut’, ‘Blossom’ doesn’t let up. As a study of music as catharsis, it’s similarly impressive – an impassioned document of the frontman’s annus horribilis that is a marked change from both the political commentary of ‘Grey Britain’ and the positivity of ‘Anthems’.

He’s writing from a more personal perspective than ever before, and across the album’s 10 tracks, he pushes himself even more than he used to, having to pause for breath two minutes into ‘Juggernaut’, and bordering on hysterical on the deeply painful ‘Loss’, a powerfully moving track that has him reflecting on his personal breakdown that almost led to him quitting music (“I lost my family / I lost my friends / I lost my money and my sense / I lost my pride and I lost my hope / All the things I built, they fucking broke”), set to an urgent, uptempo soundtrack that’s as fervent as anything on ‘Orchestra of Wolves’.

‘Blossom’ is raucous and raw, an adrenalised 35 minutes that is as much of a juggernaut as Carter proclaims himself to be on the opening track, even when, on closer ‘I Hate You’, it slides into bluesy riffs and a mid-tempo swagger that works when set against the bile-filled lyrics (sample: “You are a worthless fucking cunt / You are nothing to me”) reintroduces an icon of the recent UK hardcore scene. While it remains to be seen under what guise Carter will make his next move, he’s clearly at home writing music like this, and it shows; this is the sort of record that will sweep you away if you let it.

4/5

‘Blossom’ by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes is out now on International Death Cult.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes links:
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Words by Gareth O’Malley(@vetusmemoria)

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