Being a tattoo artist with the all-guns-blazing attitude of Frank Carter, a confrontational piece of street art was bound to speak to him. Some graffiti that he spied during the Paris riots read: “we cut off heads for less than this.” For him, this was an apt summation of the mood thrust forward on End Of Suffering’s lead single, 'Crowbar.'
With the feeling of a war cry, the track feels directly comparable to this quote and, like so much of Frank’s previous work, overflows with the energy to make you want to stand up to fight. 'Crowbar' is also the track on End of Suffering that draws perhaps the most similarities with 2017's Modern Ruin. Keeping a build to a heavy culmination, and topped off with its irresistible chorus, 'Crowbar' was the perfect choice for a first single to act as a bridge between the two records.
That’s not to say we aren’t met with the progression we see elsewhere on the record on 'Crowbar.' A significant change is that dingier, arena rock-ready guitars creep through the chorus, resembling Queens Of The Stone Age at their slick, hip-swinging best. On the record, however, this welcome shift is debuted, and perfected, in second track 'Tyrant Lizard King.' Featuring a guest guitar slot from none other than Tom Morello, it’s a stomping song that feels like it should be played riding at 100mph through a desert with just enough gas to get you to Vegas. Frank works in harmony as he wades through the feedback, grasping control with a sauntering, slick performance.
Dean Richardson’s elevating guitarwork then meets a trademark 'Back to Black' piano for an Amy Winehouse tribute in one of the record’s defining moments, 'Love Games.' Paying homage with the lyrics of 'Love is a Losing Game', Frank gives it all on the track in one of the strongest vocal performances of his career. Thematically, the track is indicative of the record’s biggest departures from the band’s previous work. Through his career, including parts of this record ('Crowbar'), and particularly in Gallows’ seminal Grey Britain (which turned 10 this week), Frank has used his platform to analyse the society he finds himself in. With End Of Suffering, Frank instead ventures into himself, to create the most open and self-aware work thus far.
This vulnerability is explored throughout. In a Facebook post earlier this year, Frank detailed his personal fight with his mental health, and End Of Suffering maps out this feeling in an important way. He went on, in a later post, to describe the record as “honest and uncompromising”, two things that can be guaranteed with any Frank Carter release, but that nonetheless represent the most powerful cogs at work here. 'Angel Wings’ lyrics “Vodka and Vicodin, 20mg is all I need… how do I survive the fear if the fear is all I know”, lay bare the gut-wrenching fears of falling to a different fate; while opening track 'Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider' seems to grapple with Frank’s heartbreak after his recent divorce and break-up, and features Frank singing from deep within at full throttle.
It’s not just the lyrics, though, that capture Frank’s thoughts. The use of dynamics, particularly in 'Anxiety', give a poignant insight to the frantic nature of his demons, with its sudden shift from calm to hysteria. This, working in tandem with the lyrics, serve as a reminder that people from all walks of life can suffer, particularly in this industry, sold as it is as a lifelong dream for those who succeed. In this context, the album’s earlier tribute to Amy Winehouse feels all the more relevant and important.
Collaboration with producer Alan Moulder - who has previously mixed Nine Inch Nails and Queens Of The Stone Age - also adds to the new layers in sound. QOTSA-inspired guitars appear regularly, but the dark synths in tracks like 'Supervillain' point to a more industrial direction that fit the record's mood, and the level to which it is achieved gives further arena-ready bulk up.
'Latex Dreams', which begins as though someone brought a distortion pedal to a 1940s LA jazz bar, moves into a monolithic chorus complete with those synths, amounting to pure elation. Moulder’s work is a part of the all-round elevation of sound that makes each element of this record a refined, natural progression from Modern Ruin.
Finishing up with the calm title-track - which includes a recording of Frank’s young daughter - the record ends by welcoming the feeling of pride that come from surviving through tumultuous periods. All in all, it's a work of art that Frank, made quasi-legendary through self-discovery and gripping performances, has given a new direction. End of Suffering is Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes' most accomplished sound yet, and one they should feel immensely proud of.