Dear Frank Carter,
What happened to you?
I remember back in 2009 when your band Gallows released one of my favourite hardcore albums of all time, Grey Britain. I remember listening to it on repeat for days on end, in awe of your blistering, cathartic vocal performance and your haunting lyrics. I remember listening to Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes’ Blossom when it first came out, following your return to hardcore music after Pure Love. I remember being ecstatic about hearing one of British punk’s greatest frontmen come roaring back on songs such as ‘Juggernaut’ and the especially potent ‘Loss’. I remember being equally excited when you announced your sophomore album, Modern Ruin, wondering how you’d ever be able to top your last performance. So where did it all go wrong?
A telling sign that things were not all as they should have been was when I first heard the introductory ‘Bluebelle’. Although the one-minute ballad soaked in reverb was not what I expected to hear from a hardcore punk musician, I attempted to accept Carter’s experimentation and anticipate what would follow.
What I did not anticipate, however, was just over half an hour of some of the most disappointing performances I have heard in a long time. Although some of the riffs were, admittedly, catchy, they were overall unremarkable and subpar. But mostly, it was the vocals that ruined this album for me. Every vocal performance felt weak in comparison the rest of Frank Carter’s discography; instead of the performer feeling situated at the forefront of the band, Carter felt pushed back and almost unconfident in his delivery. The lack of variety throughout the album also disappointed me greatly. The most discerning of these was in the minute-long ‘Jackals’; what I expected to be a blistering hardcore punk song felt more like a dreary Vaccines track in comparison to the rest of Carter’s output.
Besides the title track – which actually lived up to my expectations with a heavy, memorable hook and a gritty performance that I wish was captured on any of the other tracks on the album – Modern Ruin has to be the first Frank Carter album I was genuinely upset by. Even on softer projects like Pure Love, Carter had a vocal delivery that stood out from his peers. But on this record, it seems almost non-existent.
What happened? Why is my idol attempting now to alienate himself from the crowd which fell in love with him? I guess I don’t have the answers. In the meantime, I’ll listen to Blossom and cry into my Gallows-branded pillowcase.
**DISCLAIMER** : On subsequent listens, I actually like this album. Everything still stands, however.
Zyggy Ollie Padua-de Somogyi