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Former frontman of English bands Gallows and Pure Love, Frank Carter, has gathered up his den of snakes to release their second album, Modern Ruin. Borrowing from both Carter’s hardcore and alternative rock past, Modern Ruin follows on from debut album Blossom and is a solid addition to the Frank Carter discography.
Opener ‘Bluebelle’ is a bit of a red herring in the overall album. Spaced out, echoed vocals and a distant guitar line is reminiscent of a British Mac Demarco as he croons ‘I was told that getting older’s something that you can control/now I know that was all lies’. The distant guitar line is immediately replaced with a wall of distorted guitars on the following track ‘Lullaby’. Frank Carter laments “where have you gone’” while guitars surround him, threatening to envelop him. ‘Snake Eyes’ does not relent either and continues with the fuzzy guitars that build the backbone of the track. Frank Carter is a man singing to someone lost, lamenting all his broken promises.
The pace changes with ‘Wild Flowers’, lending itself more to Carter’s alternative rock roots, singing about a girl with flowers in her hair (possibly Sandi Thom). It’s the first real variance in sound for the album, with the preceding few tracks feeling quite similar. ‘Acid Veins’ continues along this alternative rock route with floaty guitar lines peppered throughout the song, albeit interspersed with breakdowns in the chorus. Both Frank Carter, the hardcore frontman, and Frank Carter, the alternative rock frontman, are present within the album, and it provides a change of pace to the album, but also makes it feel disjointed in places.
‘Jackals’ is the shortest track on the record, clocking in at under a minute, and combines the two core sounds of the album, weaving between hardcore and alternative rock. It’s a shame that it hasn’t been fleshed out into a full song, as it’s arguably Modern Ruin‘s most interesting moment. ‘Thunder’ falls back into the alternative rock style and feels quite formulaic. Such is the downfall of the album. Parts of it feel inspired, but others fall listless and flat. Closing track ‘Neon Rust’ exemplifies the album’s duality. The track is the opposite of the first few songs, with Frank’s wailing vocals sounding unsure. The confidence that is conveyed in aspects of the album are completely gone, and it feels like a finish that flickers out, rather than leaving a strong impression.
Modern Ruin is an album that holds itself back. There are two quite accomplished styles of sounds present on the album but, they don’t quite work when meshed together. It feels like a journey, rather than a destination. Still, whichever way Frank Carter takes it, his next album promises to be very good indeed.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Wild Flowers