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Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes - End of Suffering (Album Review)

Thursday, 16 May 2019 Written by Laura Johnson

Photo: Daniel Harris

In deciding on a title for their third album, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes turned to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, which guide followers in acknowledging what is causing their suffering before setting them on a path to understanding and ending it. Carter heard the teachings from a fellow artist in Los Angeles when travelling and they took up residency in his brain, refusing to leave for several years.

‘End of Suffering’ finds the former Gallows frontman critically looking inward more so than on the band’s previous two records, while also remaining optimistic for the future. If 2015’s ‘Blossom’ revolved around loss and the anger that can come from that, and 2017’s ‘Modern Ruin’ addressed the aftermath of those situations and feelings, then lyrically the new album paints a candid picture of the last two years of Carter’s life.

Tracks here tackle heartbreak, sex, depression, and anxiety, to name a few calling points. But, whereas the vocalist previously used metaphors to veil the true meaning of his words, now they are used to reinforce them.

“You are the moment I know I broke and I sold my final soul,” he cries on Angel Wings. “And I'm balanced on a wooden chair with a stomach full of goose, and I'm swinging like a gorilla on the loose, head in a noose.”

Carter admitted in a recent interview the track is about the bleakest moment of his life and there’s a reason that it sits at the record’s halfway mark and not its end: hope. Though he may have come close, that was not the end for the singer, and it will not be how he and his band sign off one of their most ambitious records to date.

Carter and guitarist Dean Richardson’s partnership has been well documented via social media and press interviews, but it’s through their music that we truly see the benefit of their symbiotic relationship. When Carter swaps guttural screams for soulful vocals on opener Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider, Richardson keeps things tight and anticipatory, with the rhythm section following suit.

Tyrant Lizard King, which features Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello, veers in completely the opposite direction, with wild, squalling guitars stealing the show. The closing title track, meanwhile, calls on acoustic guitar and keys, as well as an audio clip of Carter and his daughter, to accompany his heartfelt finale about their relationship. When Carter ducks, Richardson weaves.

The rest of the record musically dips into punk—old school and post— classic rock, grunge and metal to create a sound that refuses to be pigeonholed and finds the band sounding bigger than ever. Credit for that can also be attributed to producer Cam Blackwood, known for his work with George Ezra and Jack Savoretti, and mixer Alan Moulder, who’s got Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age on his resume.

‘End of Suffering’ is at points heartbreakingly bleak and harrowing, but these moments are overshadowed by the defiance underlying it all. It’s a lesson for us all: times in your life may be hard, but if you’re lucky enough to get out the other side alive then move on with purpose—maybe after you’ve made a career-defining album about it.

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