“There’s a big gaping hole for real true punk rock at the minute.” So spoke former Gallows and Pure Love frontman Frank Carter to Radio 1’s Daniel Carter. One needs only take a look at the heavy rock and hardcore scenes in the UK to begrudgingly agree with him, too. It’s for this reason that as a fan of punk rock – the acerbic, poison-spitting and often violent kind, not the pop-punk kind – I’m more than happy to see Frank Carter return to his roots with his new act Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.
Carter and his then-bandmates in Gallows exploded on the punk scene in the UK in 2007, gaining notoriety for their intense confrontation of society’s issues and for their aggressive and out of control live shows. In the midst of it all was Carter, whose raw screaming and ferocious growl gave the UK a true modern punk icon.
It was not just for his devotion to punk – often typified by his willingness to get involved in violent mosh pits and fights at his shows – that Carter symbolised the epitome of the genre. His lyrics explored dark themes that often epitomised the epitaph given to Britain by the conservative government: “Broken Britain”. From date rape, misogyny, street violence and social anxiety to the futility of the rat race, Carter created a catalogue of tracks that brimmed with biting social commentary as well as raw guitar riffs and caustic vocals.
Gallows would go on to draw criticism by signing a £1 million deal with Warner, leading to many to point out the hypocrisy of their anti-establishment message. Perhaps it was down to this that the band’s unity fractured, especially as Carter began to experiment with a more mellow sound.
Carter and his bandmates parted ways and he formed Pure Love, a band more focused on straight-edge rock than punk. While Pure Love had its fans and praise, the project always seemed like a stop-gap, something to tide Carter over before he launched himself back into what he knew best.
Now in 2015, at the head of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Carter has rediscovered his powerful, heart-stopping style. From only a scant few tracks on the act’s debut EP “Rotten” the old Carter can be heard breaking back out again, railing against both the issues he writes about and against the limitations a studio recording imposes on his powerful vocal delivery. Every song is a glorious assault on the senses, so unstoppable that it almost demands repeated listening.
From the bitter, crawling riffs of “Fangs” and the furious decrying of martyrdom in “Paradise” to the rasping, emotionally-charged finale of “Primary Explosive”, Carter demonstrates a refined, sharpened iteration of the man who burst onto the scene in 2007. He’s still covered in spiralling tattoos, still sporting the same half-manic stage persona, but he is all in all a different animal entirely – an animal ready to tear at throat of the punk scene.