Album Review: Frank Carter – Blossom Deluxe
“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this.” On August 18, 2015, Frank Carter unveiled his new band The Rattlesnakes at a small, crowded, occasionally violent show at London’s Borderline. After the break up of his post-Gallows outfit Pure Love, it was indeed good to see Frank back onstage. But more than that, his elation spoke of something else. In Gallows, his angry energy had become something of a curse, and he was a man trapped in a music industry thing he wasn’t comfortable in. In Pure Love he had been, in hindsight, running away from such things (albeit very well). But here, here he was comfortable in his tattooed skin as the finest British punk frontman of his generation. And yeah, he did punch someone in the face during the set (the recipient had been warned about trying to pull Frank’s trousers down, bloke didn’t listen, Frank lamped him, Frank checked he was alright while also reminding him that the grabber wouldn’t treat a female performer like that), but there was joy to be had as well. Even the punch had a (vaguely) good-natured element to it. Seemingly aware that whatever drives him can’t simply be switched off, to see Frank smiling as he harnessed his powerful, troublemaker’s energy into something both wildly dangerous and full of love was to realise that, actually, this wasn’t just a new band, but someone taking on their final form. The album that show was to launch, the superb Blossom, had a similar effect.
Here, to celebrate five years of that album, and indeed, The Rattlesnakes themselves, that album has been lovingly repackaged with live tracks from the Blossom tour, new songs, and a photo book. The songs themselves remain incandescent, and in some ways Juggernaut, Devil Inside Me (which still sounds like the theme from Doctor Who) and Trouble are even more formidable now that they’ve spent the intervening years flexing on festival stages and in stadiums with Foo Fighters to show what they can really do. The spiteful closer, the pithy I Hate You, remains a venomous anthem, relatable in its bluntness, still with a sly smile that knows lines like ‘I hate you and I wish you would die’ are funny in their direct force, and you’re welcome to be in on the joke, but also that Frank really, actually, does mean it.
For the extras, unheard stuff Fire, Battlefield and Summer Of Blood are heavy-riffed ragers, as catchy as they are pyrotechnic with anger. The live stuff, meanwhile, all caught at shows on the Blossom tour just after the album’s release, are piss and vinegar affairs that are like listening to an animal breaking out of a cage. Gloriously rough but still well captured, the energy and vitality – both the anger and the effervescence – is contained like Coke in a shaken can. It’s a requirement in these gig-free days to mention how excited live recordings are, how nostalgic, but genuinely, if you want to remember that feeling of tension just before a song drops and euphoric chaos kicks in, nobody does it better than Frank.
The Rattlesnakes have existed for but one year less than Frank’s tenure in Gallows. But where in that band anger seemed to be an energy that was almost always negative, what Blossom kickstarted was a new dawn in which, yeah, angry, but of a more relatable, in it together stripe. And sometimes, with barefaced happiness and fun. And more often, the simple joy of cutting loose and venting steam and shaking off all the shit in a way that’s fun and rewarding. It is Frank Carter realising that he doesn’t have to be the angriest man in the room, but that he is the most energetic, and that it’s much, much better for the soul to use that to become a ringmaster who can both start and stop giant pits at the drop of a hat. Happy birthday, Blossom, thank you for introducing us to the real Frank Carter.
For Fans Of: The Bronx, Cancer Bats, Black Flag
Blossom Deluxe is out now via International Death Cult.
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