When I read a review of this album that compared Frank Carter to Ed Sheeran’s evil twin brother you could have poached an egg in my piss.
That comparison was enlightening in two ways.
First, if a reviewer’s level of insight into an alternative artist requires them to attach them to someone who defines mainstream, it’s not really insight at all.
Second, it explains a review that provides a list of Carter’s works to date but shows precious little understanding of them.
But the annoyance runs deeper. Carter and Sheeran’s similarity begins and ends with hair colour.
And where Sheeran’s complicity in poisoning the well of culture means he’ll be among the first against the wall come the glorious day, Carter’s very existence makes the world a better place.
The truth is I don’t know where to begin with my own assessment of the new album by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, so perhaps I’m in no position to criticise a reviewer who found a hook, however spurious, while I’m just sitting here struggling to find the words.
It took me a while to really get inside Blossom but I’ve been a flag-waving, card-carrying, gig-going, tee-wearing Rattlesnakes fan since the morning Modern Ruin was released.
This is a band with a fearsome reputation as a live outfit. With 24 songs to their name and not a dud in the bunch. With two wonderful albums committed to wax that I love and adore with every sinew of my musical being.
End Of Suffering can hang with either of them. I think it’s wonderful.
Brilliance is a concept that can be difficult to process. Many of the reviews I’ve read share most of my enthusiasm for this album. One, clearly, does not. It’s not alone.
What makes this record work is a simple combination of slinky swagger and naked emotional vulnerability. It’s a mood, measured and persistent, and what it swerves in aggression it makes up for tenfold in craft.
This is a straight rock album fronted by a punk. ‘Crowbar’ makes that clear as much as any of the myriad lyrics that specifically point it out.
But ‘Anxiety’ is the song that most reveals Carter’s importance in our community. He gets it. He understands people. And the man oozes class and empathy, whether it’s in this song or his on-stage comments.
‘Angel Wings’ has quickly won plaudits. It’s a thickly atmospheric song that’s packed with personality and unassuming cool, and the only punk anywhere in it is the indomitable firecracker in the middle.
The third song unveiled pre-release was the spiky ‘Kitty Sucker’, which represents the Rattlesnakes attitude in its suave new shell. It sounds great, it’s catchy, and it’s mined from a bottomless pit of confidence.
The last song is the title track and it’s a breathtaking, emotional love letter to Carter’s daughter. The kid out of Gallows achieved a lot way back when, but a lump in the throat wasn’t one of them.
End Of Suffering is a fantastic Frank Carter album; he’s there, the star, front and centre, in story and sonics. But this is Dean Richardson’s record too – his guitar playing is full of character and variety, and the canvas it provides for the singer is flawless.
That singer is a storytelling master. He always has been, but arguably never more so than on this new album. His vocals have taken yet another leap for the better, too.
Though different to much of it stylistically, End Of Suffering is right up there with the best of Frank Carter’s output.
And this is Frank fucking Carter we’re talking about.
End Of Suffering is out now on International Death Cult.