They say the third time’s the charm, and, after the breathtaking, ruthlessly efficient one-two punch of “Blossom” and “Modern Ruin”, here we are – at FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES’ album number three – at once a stadium sized declaration of intent and a deeply personal cri-de-coeur called “End of Suffering”.
Recorded in just six months over the heatwave that engulfed London last year, End Of Suffering - named after the Buddhist term for enlightenment- is the sound of a band entering an entirely new realm of the senses, a forty minute rock’n’rollercoaster of molten-hot bangers, scorched-soul ballads and grunge lullabies laced through with a lacerating lyrical honesty.
With Cam Blackwood (George Ezra / Jack Savoretti) at the helm and legendary mixer Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails / Queens Of The Stone Age) sprinkling sonic stardust, the resultant album sees Carter, co-songwriter Dean Richardson and co not so much spreading their wings as running and leaping headfirst into heretofore uncharted waters. Opener ‘Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider’ finds Frank at full stretch, singing: “When I’m high I’m in heaven/When I’m low I’m in hell”, while first single “Crowbar” is tauter than a highwire and relentlessly sharpened to a razor’s edge, a sonic Molotov cocktail of a track delivered with the anarchic zeal of the gilets-jaunes rioters. “I saw an amazing bit of graffitti during the Paris riots which said: ‘We’ve cut off heads for less than this’” enthuses Frank. “I loved that attitude. People are sick of being force fed doom and gloom.” It also comes complete with a video directed by long-time collaborator Ross Cairns (who has also directed videos for Biffy Clyro and QOTSA) and acts as a blistering clarion call to arms.
When the fury is dialled down however, even more startling shades start to surface. ‘Anxiety’ is a paranoic festival anthem in waiting, while ‘Love Games’ is an absolute beauty; a distortion-heavy nod to Amy Winehouse’s finest moment destined to soundtrack the summer. ‘Angel Wings’, meanwhile, is as bleakly poetic as Charles Bukowski. A howl of existential despair involving vodka and viocodin induced visions of ‘feathers made of diamond rings/dragons made of oxygen’ it’s worthy of those other harrowingly honest third albums, The Manic Street Preachers’ Holy Bible & Nirvana’s In Utero (both band favourites).
The album also features Tom Morello as a guest guitarist on ‘Tyrant Lizard King’. The two re-connected after many years at Resurrection Festival in Spain last summer, where Frank infamously sung Rage classic ‘Killing In The Name’ to a 40,000 strong crowd, finishing the track with a stage dive worthy of the rock’n’roll hall of fame.
Indeed. In an age of say-nothing pop and codified corporate rock, End Of Suffering does what all great music should- lift the spirits and stir the soul.