By Fraser Bryce (@fraser_bryce)
I started my first review of 2016 by bemoaning the state of rock music in recent years, citing more focus on a polished, radio friendly sound instead of being, y’know, rock music. However, 2016 threw up so many fucking excellent new bands and comebacks that I didn’t know what to do with myself. So, I start my first review of 2017 by asking: how long until we get the first great album of 2017?
Answer: 20 days.
The album in question? Modern Ruin, the second outing for Frank Carter’s new band, The Rattlesnakes. Coming quickly after 2015’s Blossom, Modern Ruin sees the band take a different path to the raging punk rock of its predecessor. Instead, Modern Ruin combines punk fury with stoner rock and Zeppelin-style riffing. The album opens with the low-fi ‘Bluebelle’ before the rock and roll swagger of ‘Lullaby’ explodes into life, channelling both Queens of the Stone Age and Led Zeppelin alongside Carter’s signature brand of punk. ‘Snake Eyes’ ups the stoner feel of the album, while ‘Vampires’ has an irresistible stomp alongside a chorus that can only be described as fucking wonderful. If you come to me in 12 months time and I’ve heard a better song than ‘Vampires’, I’ll eat my hat.
‘Wild Flowers’ is another early highlight, and is probably the most instant song on the album. Following this is ‘Acid Veins’ which, yet again, takes the band into unexplored territory, this time an almost Hendrix-esque blues song. At this point we arrive at the double whammy of ‘God Is My Friend’ and ‘Jackals’. Those of you who were worrying that Carter had abandoned his punk roots, fear not, because these songs fucking rip. ‘Jackals’ is fury incarnate, lasting just under a minute and containing the lines “If they make it to the shore/Don’t hesitate just kill them all/Burn them all like sickened cattle/And leave nothing for the jackals”. Fucking awesome.
‘Thunder’ is another politically charged moment on the album, tackling ISIS and Islamophobia. ‘Real Life’ is the moment on the album that owes the most to stoner rock bands such as Kyuss and Monster Magnet, with its laid back feel and fuzzed up sound. This provides perfect contrast to ‘Modern Ruin’, which brims with classic punk rock attitude. With songs like this on the album, I’m beginning to think its release on the same day as Donald Trump’s inauguration was more than a happy coincidence. ‘Neon Rust’ closes the album, a softer, almost psychedelic song which contains an exemplary vocal performance from Carter.
In short, Modern Ruin is an absolute monster of an album. It explores bold new territories without sacrificing any of the sound that the band created on Blossom, and blends the two seamlessly. Modern Ruin is the perfect example of what a rock album should be in 2017: bold, uncompromising and, above all else, brilliant.