Monday, 17 August 2015

'Blossom' by Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

When I decided to review 'Blossom', I was a little bit nervous. I'm not the best at listening to heavy music (I normally have much more bad things to say about it than good things) and I was worried that the album was all going to be on one heavy, thrashy level. I should not have been worried. 'Blossom' is the most varied album I've heard in 2015, and I am shocked at how much I enjoyed it. 

Starting off with 'Juggernaut', the intense intro, frenetic punk shouting and simple breakdown make for the best possible start to this album. If there was ever any doubt this song wipes it out - Frank Carter is back, and he's back with a vengeance. 
'Trouble' is much more melodic than 'Juggernaut', the "I know, I know, I know" repetition meaning that a crowd will having something to chant along to as well as mosh to (and come on, a lack of moshing is not going to be a problem at a Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes show!), but that's the thing with this song - it makes you want to be violent, sure, but it also just makes you want to sing along, so if you aren't into moshing music don't be alarmed.
Back when 'Fangs', the first single, was released it instantly grabbed my attention. It's so calm and relaxed at the beginning and then it just kicks you in the teeth (no pun intended), grabs you and doesn't let you go. It seems so obvious to me that Frank has a new lease of life because this is the best music he's ever written and performed. 'Fangs' is definitely my most preferred heavy song, because again it's one that you can sing along to and dance to - it's not overwhelmingly heavy.
The first three songs are all different to each other, but similar, but when 'Devil Inside Me' arrives it brings with it a very unexpected facet of this album. With the riff sounding like the Doctor Who theme song, and the vocal much more singing than screaming, it's a breath of fresh air in amongst all of the shouting and screaming, but it doesn't last for long.
'Paradise' goes back to the heavy formula that Frank writes so well, but where the rest of 'Blossom' seems to be Frank breaking down boundaries and trying new things, 'Paradise' feels a bit too much like it's using the generic hardcore song blueprints. This is definitely my least favourite song on the album. The frantic first half of the song gets completely slowed down for the interlude and a slow burning ending which did lose my attention - the repetitive lyrics, dragging guitars and heavy drums feel sluggish and weren't as effective as the rest of the album.
Lyrically, 'Loss' is brilliant - I think it's going to be one of those songs that a lot of people related to and end up getting tattoos for. Musically, it does feel like something we've already heard on the album, but the ending definitely makes up for it - with Frank's visceral screaming suddenly stopping, cutting out to him saying "fuck, fuck" and coughing, it makes it feel like you're hearing a first take. I don't know if it necessarily was, but it certainly makes it feel like something more special.
'Beautiful Death' is what it says in the name - absolutely beautiful. The intro to the song sounds as though it could have been pulled from a new We Are The Ocean or Deaf Havana song, which is a complete surprise. When Frank throws himself into the vocal and starts shouting once more it does feel reminiscent of Bring Me The Horizon's 'Sempiternal' album - the singing and screaming are perfectly balanced on that album, and they're perfectly balanced here too. It doesn't feel forced or fake, it feels like a fabulous decision that suits the song to a tee.
Similarly to 'Loss', 'Rotten Blossom' employs the tactic of hearing Frank's breathing in the middle of the song. It just makes the music feel so intimate, like you could be at a concert crammed into a tiny room with just half a dozen other people, and I wonder - because the atmosphere feels so small on the album, will Frank be able to sell out bigger rooms or will it just not work with this style of music? I know it's something to dwell upon for the future, but it is something to think about. 'Rotten Blossom' also has great lyrical content, posing the question of "what happens to us when we die" and getting right philosophical, and I love the mention of "Do we blossom, or are we just rotten?" because this album really shows that Frank is blossoming into a much more skilled vocalist and writer.
I don't have much to say about 'Primary Explosion', because it just sounds like something we've already heard. Don't get me wrong, it's well performed, it just doesn't blow me away or grab my attention the way that some of the other songs on the album do. Where eighty percent of the album is new, interesting and captivating, there's still the twenty percent that feels formulaic, but at least it's not the majority of songs that do.
There's no question in my mind that 'I Hate You' is my favourite song on the album. The lyrics are superb - "I hate you, and I wish you would die. It makes me violently angry when I see you alive" - and it sounds to me like Taking Back Sunday if they were from the rough streets of London. The power that Frank puts into his held notes is amazing - we don't normally hear Frank singing this purely, but it sounds fantastic. If you don't like heavy music, skip the rest of the album and go straight to this track, but it's flawless and is a perfect ending to the album.

This album will appeal to fans of Frank Carter, whether they're fans of previous incarnations Gallows or Pure Love. It was obvious from the release of 'Fangs' that Gallows fans were going to be able to get on board with this new material, but with 'Devil Inside Me' and 'I Hate You' focusing on singing rather than screaming it's going to appeal to Pure Love fans too. Frank has always been a chameleon, changing his style from one extreme to the other, but I think Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes is his perfect blend, and it's definitely an album from a man at the top of his game. On Twitter last week, Frank mentioned that the second Rattlesnakes album is already being worked on, so I don't think it's going to be too long at all until we get even more new material - until then I'm definitely looking forward to Reading festival, this set is going to be unmissable.

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