Frank Carter's music resembles a firework display on this dazzling new record. He mines increasingly sensitive territory, but you should still handle with care
When Gallows arrived on the scene in the middle part of the last decade – led by a frontman who resembled Dennis The Menace if he’d spent all of his pocket money on flash art, or at the very least, had endured a stint in Russian gaol – few would have expected that, almost 15 years later, we’d be talking about Frank Carter with the reverence he’s come to command thanks to a string of excellent takes on modern punk rock.
Sure, Carter was arguably the finest frontman of his generation, but he had a fuse that looked set to expire long before he had time to explore emotions more sophisticated than the fury that defined his legendary early performances with the Watford punks. Rarely did a Gallows performance end without Carter covered in blood; sometimes his, often someone else’s. Once, after a gig Gallows performed on a boat moored on the Thames, he threatened to throw a former NME editor overboard. And yet somewhere along the line, Frank Carter started to love music as much as he loved chaos.
That’s not to say that the live performances of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – the band he’s now fronted since 2015 – resemble anything other than a blitzkrieg of punk thrills. But on record, Carter continues to mine increasingly sensitive territory, with impressive results. ‘End Of Suffering’, the third Rattlesnakes record, sees Frank continue to showcase the throaty croon that was such a revelation at his new bands dawn. It means that a song like ‘Angel Wings’ – all squelchy synth and broody, fuzz drenched electric guitar – yearns with a type of desperate beauty. That the title track, which features the babbling of Carter’s young daughter Mercy, sees the singer share neurosis upon neurosis atop acoustic guitar and muted piano; it’s less a song than a hymn. And yet it’s clear there’s still a furnace where his soul should be. There is, after all, a song here called ‘Tyrant Lizard King’.
Frank Carter used to be a stick of dynamite. Then a stick of dynamite with a longer fuse. Now his music is much more akin to a firework display. Long may he ignite the sky.