ALBUM: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – ‘Modern Ruin’

Like a weird mix of Alex Turner and Billie Joe Armstrong, Frank Carter’s voice on Modern Ruin shows just how shiny and new a punk’s voice can be polished. The former Gallows man has seemingly left the guttural and screeching hardcore music behind, and is pursuing a much cleaner sound.

It’s a noble quest when the end product doesn’t bore listeners to death, but this album is certainly a mixed bag. Tracks like ‘Bluebelle’ and ‘Neon Rust’ are fantastic departures from the sound we’re used to hearing from a Frank Carter project, however, too many times on this album I was left internally yawning at the song structures and lyrical content.

Take track two, ‘Lullaby’, for example; it sounds like it was directly lifted from a recent Green Day album, who in my opinion have strayed a million miles away from the path of anything interesting or hard-hitting. Same goes for the next track ‘Snake Eyes’. It just doesn’t go through the hole in my brain where new and exciting sounds go to live. Instead it goes straight to the recycling section, clearly remade and birthed from the hope of commercial success via toe dipping Arctic Monkey’s AM (2013).

Even if there are occasional bitter moments from thrilling throat-cutting screams (reminiscent of the Orchestra of Wolves (2006) era) the tracks really don’t stab as deep. There are definitely good cuts here, such as ‘Acid Veins’ – its slower tempo and plodding rhythm projecting cool desert landscapes with cacti and sunglasses, drenched in a painful dusky light. The criminally short ‘Jackals’ also offers some breakneck (perhaps not the sleaziest) punk to digest with a definite twang of Misfits influence. But again, this hard rock/alt rock direction really isn’t for me, and I much prefer the bloody and absurdly violent nature of Gallows. The more commercial sound instantly lessens the impact.

Maybe Carter would have created an absolute triumph if the feel was more DIY or lo-fi, forcing the listener to confront the album rather than politely offering the songs on a silver platter with a label reading: “ROCK N ROLL MAN, LETS DRINK JACK DANIELS AND RIDE MOTORCYCLES”. I will say however the line “her skin white like cocaine but soft as silk” – from the track ‘Wild Flowers’ – has burned itself onto my brain and will probably be one of the few things I come back to Modern Ruin for.

Modern Ruin was released on 27th of January via International Death Cult.

Connor Ryan