The Purity of a Forest Fire
If bookends were priests, there would have been a lot of bloodied, bruised and probably shredded, half eaten ears scattered outside the confessional mosh pit down the local Church of Punk in 2015. Though it had the somewhat tender/genteel title ‘Blossom’ (2015) Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes’ album raged as though Regan (The Exorcist) picked up a guitar, grabbed her emotional intelligence diary and went on tour rather than focusing on an interior decorating career (though I’m sure DFS have missed a trick by not getting Regan to sell their beds).
Opening the album was ‘Juggernaut’, by name and nature. A ferocious possessed song that screamed like Beelzebub himself hailing Armageddon itself. The rest of the album had a thunderous scorched earth policy of honesty so powerful that your were equally terrified and never felt so fucking alive. Closing on the crossroads/deal with devil blues number ‘I Hate You’, it tore out your soul, and incinerated it before your very eyes. Frank took on his devils and he won, gloriously. Out of the forest of cinders now blossoms a rebirth and hope.
2016 seemed as a whole to be about building the foundation of ignorant chaos for the Babel towering insanity of 2017. Thankfully we have our chosen warrior in the form of Frank Carter to lead us through the carnage. Though it has the title ‘Modern Ruin’ (2017), if the bookends theory rings true the title is in contrast to the overriding emotion, there’s destruction, warnings, but radiant hope. Frank has endured his crusade and found his Holy Grail. Having found salvation in the sanctity of love with his wife, unquenchable celestial creativity and the divinity of a young daughter, arise Sir Frank, Knight of the Spiritual Mosh Pit, with his band of Rattlesnake merry men of course.
A lulling gentle banjo opens the album ‘Bluebelle’ as if Frank is reading us a bedtime story from his expeditions, tenderly/macabrely telling us to live, for ‘the worst thing that can happen, is you die’. The battle scars merely life stabbed lines and punctured full stops that we all collect in the journal that is our body, our skin. It’s also quite apt that Frank is a tattooist, helping others to represent others pivotal (and frolicful) moments forever on their organic chronicle. There’s pain, but there’s a cathartic and inspiring truth etched throughout.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Wild Flowers directed by Jake Chapman
Of course there’s rightly going to be no sleeping with a Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes album, for they are the raging proclamation of life, learning, living, bruising, healing, scaring, fighting for the righteous and evolving into what you aspire to be, and much better.
Having found peace in many aspects of his life, that may have seemingly slightly tamed the ragged rage of the previous album and his work with Gallows etc, but only in the way that a rough fractured dirty coal face becomes diamond sharp with the amount of pressure involved. Everything is honed, focused, more astutely written and absolutely has a power that will resonate with a much broader audience than ‘Blossom’ may have had (but deserved). Frank’s voice sounds fantastic. There’s a clarity, restrained power that can only come from years of battle cries, but the tectonic force can always be felt rumbling underneath, ready to explode, spraying sulphurous lyrical lava everywhere. There are spiritual reverbs of Johnny Cash (Acid Veins) and even Arctic Monkeys (Bluebelle, Neon Rust) which tantalisingly show where this man has the capacity to take us too, and christ it’s going to be AWESOME live!
This aural mandala of an album ends with the simply gorgeous, but somewhat horrific prophecy of the death of nature and us in ‘Neon Rust’. It sounds like a rousing anthemic stadium love song, about our own demise and destruction of the beauty that surrounds us. But it’s a sign of respect to tell someone the truth, clearly exemplified by the rise of ‘fake news’ from our ‘rulers’ who have nothing but contempt for us. Despite the emotive plaintive cry ‘We don’t belong in a wasteland’, there’s the shining hope of ‘be anything you believe’ that drifts off, the last message of potential salvation… embrace it, and this outstanding album. Change yourself, and the world.