Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes – ‘Sticky’ review: a great record borne of hard times

Where the band's previous albums explored mental health and toxic masculinity, this one is a pressure release: loose and spontaneous

15 years after he introduced himself as the venom-spitting vocalist in Gallows, in June 2021, Frank Carter sauntered onstage at Download Festival as a bona fide festival headliner.

It was about time. After spending six years establishing his current band The Rattlesnakes as the best live draw in the UK, what followed was the most thrilling, combustive set of the weekend. It was a life-affirming reminder of the importance of live music, and a primordial punch to the gut that had been missing from our lives for the last 15 months.

Carter and his bandmate, guitarist Dean Richardson, have sought to capture that breath-of-life abandon on the band’s fourth effort, ‘Sticky’, an album Frank says is “not a lockdown record” but “a freedom record”. Where previous Rattlesnakes’ albums explored mental health and toxic masculinity, ‘Sticky’ is a pressure release: loose and spontaneous, tapping into that inclination we all had at the end of lockdown to go … well, a bit feral.

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“I go where monsters dwell / Dancing like a madman through a personal hell,” Carter howls on the opening line of the titular track. The same could be said for the breakneck ‘Cupid’s Arrow’ or ‘Bang Bang’, the latter featuring a tongue-in-cheek verse from electro-punk rapper Lynks. “8pm. Initiate downfall,” hollers Carter, revving up for a night of madness over dirty, Slaves-style guitars.

‘Go Get A Tattoo’ is easily Frank’s most unapologetically anthemic track yet, with a bright, earworm chorus that belies its source material (in 2020 Carter achieved a lifetime ambition when he opened his own tattoo shop, Rose Of Mercy, only to see the doors slam shut after two weeks as lockdown kicked in). By the time Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie turns up like a ASMR Jesus amid shaft-of-light keyboards on the biblical ‘Original Sin’, he’s talking Carter down from the ledge.

There are more serious moments nestled amongst the hedonism. Carter, a long-time champion for diversity in metal and rock, teams up with pop-metaller Cassyette on ‘’Off With His Head’, a pertinent attack on a patriarchal society and gender-based violence: Get in your house and go to sleep / ‘Cause it ain’t safe out on the streets.But ‘Your Town’, a collab with IDLES’ Joe Talbot proves to be the album’s highlight, an incendiary pairing of two modern punk icons, written as Carter and Richardson watched societal divisions widen during the pandemic.

This kind of bug-eyed bish-bash-bosh is exactly what we need from Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes right now. Great records inevitably come out of shit times, and this is one of them.

Details

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Release date: October 15

Record label: International Death Cult

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