Fate works in funny ways, doesn’t it? Fate can be the precursor to personal failures and can also be the catalyst to our own successes, and more often than not, it’s both. So perhaps it was Frank Carter’s fate that his attempt to write sing-along alt-rock with Pure Love would be the flop that nearly sent the ex-Gallows frontman into obscurity. And it’s that same spell of fate that four years later has caused him and The Rattlesnakes to release an incredible selection of anthems on Modern Ruin.
Following the instant success of 2015’s debut Blossom, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have developed the more streamlined sound that appeared on Devil Inside Me and I Hate You which brought clarity among the all-out war that tracks like Juggernaut and Loss issued. But this shouldn’t send any shivers of a more polished sounding album down your spine. Lullaby is still as gritty as any track on Blossom with a feeling of grandeur, brought on by Carter’s soaring choral vocals that take listeners through blues melodies played on scraping guitars.
The great contradiction of Modern Ruin is the rawness of the band’s instrumentation which could only come from musicians with a background in hardcore utilised to create shimmering rock songs with stratospheric choruses and memorable hooks. In a landscape where many bands going for a similar sound would be happier to let post production effects create epic soundscaping, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are where that craft starts and ends. Choruses in Vampires and Wild Flowers are spring to life through guitarist Dean Richardson’s power chord throttling, issuing fat simplistic riffs that fit the songs perfectly, much in the same way why the basic nature of Queens of the Stone Age’s first album makes it such a classic.
It seems too obvious to talk Frank’s confidence in the music he performs, but it shines through across his delivery on the album. Slower numbers like Acid Veins give him a chance to exercise singing abilities, switching from high-range refrains to throaty lows that remind us that the untamed screamer is still here, before getting unleashed on the record’s title track. His tackling of the western world’s increasingly ignorant attitude towards Middle-Eastern refugees on Thunder is an unexpected highlight of the album: ‘There are mothers and fathers and children too, and you’re scared of them ‘cos they don’t look like you’, adding ‘I’ve seen a stampede massacre on a holy ground, and I’ve seen whole families being drowned,’ he delivers with absolute conviction.
It’s this conviction from Frank that makes Modern Ruin such a strong record, and worthy of Carter’s near golden collection of output. This record takes the rawness of Blossom and adds some touches of finesse and expansion to result in a classier record. It may turn Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes into a household name, and if the man who nearly lost all relevancy in the world of rock can do so with an album as full of life as this, well, that’s just fate.