Ever since his stint as the frontman of the hard rock band Gallows, Frank Carter has been a staple of the British rock music scene. Although this style of angry, bitter lyrics was characteristic of the band and helped solidify a strong group following, Carter left the band in 2011 due to musical differences. From there, he formed Pure Love, a much more upbeat and sing-along rock group, which focused on catchy hooks rather than larger-than-life riffs. In 2017, we find Carter at the helm of his new outfit, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, an in-between of his two previous bands.
His new album, Modern Ruin, is influenced by every step of Frank Carter’s musical history. It mixes the post-hardcore aggression of Gallows with the lighter pop-influences of Pure Love, finding Carter back at his angry, snarling self, but with clear sparks of the more upbeat.
Opener “Bluebelle” is deceptively calm, with Carter crooning over soft crackles and slow guitars, before the album really comes to life in its main single “Lullaby.” The song leaps at you, with a pounding, angry guitar and the dark and poetic lyrics that Carter is known for, as he asks “sleep, where have you gone?” while reminiscing about a lost love. Rhetorical questions are littered throughout, creating an involved experience, and although the lyrics might seem generic, the meaning is often much louded.
The production on this album is second to none, as the creative decision to make songs that are rooted in hardcore but also aim for the mainstream is risky, but here it pays off. No song is too pop-y, yet every track is radio-friendly. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes saunter through the album with cool arrogance; the rhythms are catchy, and the guitar riffs are meaty and technical. Carter is an expert in his vocal range; he knows exactly what rhythmic patterns work for him and stays safely within this zone. This way, despite a relatively small range of notes, the vocals never sound repetitive.
“Vampires” is by far a stand out, mixing a brilliant chugging riff alongside Carter’s signature darker lyrics. The Western-style interlude in the middle doesn’t seem like it should fit, but it somehow works incredibly. Juxtaposed almost immediately with “Wild Flowers,” a song about love and making daisy chains, we see the true writing finesse between two contrasting styles.
Nothing in this album is entirely unexpected, but it consistently rises to such a high standard that it doesn’t matter. Frank Carter is a staple in the British rock scene, with a somewhat cult following, and this album is him at the peak of his writing career. It will be no surprise if he is soon making waves here in America.