Context is king: I was a teen of the nineties. I wore Doc Martens to school before they were cool (possibly because they weren’t cool), did my own piercings (badly) and once gave myself an undercut (which my mum still doesn’t know about, 25 years on).
Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in Chains, Faith No More, Soundgarden… they were my thing. They *are* my thing. Solid, guitar rock with pure-yet-raw male vocal is my thing. If your club carpet is 30% nylon, 20% beer and 50% sweat, I’ve probably been there. If mid-nineties lock-ins were your standard with nothing but cans of lukewarm Red Stripe and The Best Jukebox In The World, we would probably have been friends. If this is still your thing, call me.
So, both Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes are going to have to do some real damage to get a naff review.
Hint: they do not.
I first experienced Frank Carter in 2008ish at a Gallows show in TJs in Newport. Low ceilings, low stage, no barrier and no rules. But, as much as I loved them, for me, Frank Carter made the right move when he left.
End of Suffering is the third full studio album from the band and the second from this particular line up; the first being my Album of the Year 2017, Modern Ruin.
The record opens with ‘Why A Butterfly Can’t Love A Spider’, pulsing guitar and initially barely-there drums while his silky vocal prowls over the top and then…1:55 in…here it goes. It’s pulled back in again and he ebbs and flows in an Era Vulgaris sex-music way. No complaints here. ‘Tyrant Lizard King’, ‘Kitty Sucker’, and ‘Crowbar’ continue down this melodic rock path with Dean Richardson’s solid-as-fuck guitar playing a more prominent role.
‘Little Devil’, ‘Love Games’, and ‘Angel Wings’ are probably my favourite songs on this album; they are sexy and dark and smouldering, again reminding me of the ear-filth that is on-form QOTSA, whilst ‘Latex Dreams’ speaks for more than the title suggests. It’s today’s Rotting Strip (Crooked Fingers) – we do naughty stuff with naughty people and it might not feel good forever.
I’m going to stop in a moment because it’s been an effort to not write ‘it is fucking perfect’ repeatedly. End of Suffering has softness when you need it, it’ll have you screaming into your steering wheel when you have to. ‘Anxiety’ and the title track/album closer are personal reflections and listeners will learn more about Frank Carter in these two songs than any music mag interview: if you look closely at those tattooed sleeves, you’ll find him wearing his heart. He sings to his daughter, ‘your happiness will be the end of suffering’ and we end the record in a wet-eyed heap, hearing a home recording of them being just a daddy and his little girl.
Some partnerships just work and everything falls into place – Frank and Dean *beyond* work. Fans of the harder, edgier Carter won’t vacate the pit on hearing more melody in this record; instead they will harmonise the pogoing with the synchronized head-nodding and fist-thumping anthems, and wipe tears from cheeks when he sings of his health and his daughter.
Frank Carter is growing up and so are we. Album of the Year 2019. Probably.
Words by Lisa Whiteman.