It’s been almost ten years since Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes emerged on the scene. Frank, of course, had been around much longer, beginning his career as frontman for punk group Gallows until his departure in 2011. His second group, Pure Love, suffered a short lifespan, before The Rattlesnakes were born in 2015. Their debut record Blossom surprised critics and fans alike with its rawness, but since then the band has dialled their tone down somewhat. This trajectory has led them to their fifth release, Dark Rainbow.
The album kicks off without delay with Honey. The group’s usual rawness is apparent in the instrumentation, but Frank’s vocals feel smoother and more nuanced. The following song, single Man of the Hour, shows this shift more deliberately, featuring stabbed piano chords, light synths, and a powerful vocal performance. Electric piano kicks off Can I Take You Home, Frank’s crooning subdued until the chorus explodes into life. American Spirit is a perfect middle ground between a pastiche of classic American rock riffs and The Rattlesnakes typical punk stylings. Guitarist Dean Richardson in on top form on this album, the aforementioned tune just one of many musical highlights. Brambles shows yet another side to the groups malleability, the fuzzy bass and hypnotic rhythm accentuated by Frank’s subtle chorus melody and raw verse takes, while an air of atmospheric synths fill the space around.
Queen Of Hearts and Sun Bright Golden Happening take the tempo down even further, the latter being a true piano ballad, while the former builds slowly, starting with guitar and ending with the whole band playing a quietened version of themselves. Superstar is the closest The Rattlesnakes have even gotten to a poppy hook, Frank destroying his vocal cords in the chorus while the band rock hard. It’s a singalong belter that will no doubt be popular live. This leads perfectly into Self Love, another fuzzy rocker with a catchy melody. The album ends on the title track, a more meditative cut that incorporates all the elements that make up the album. Distorted guitar riff, tight bass and drums, and an anthemic vocal, all brought together by ambient synths.
Dark Rainbow is arguably the group’s strongest and most versatile record to date. A far cry from their debut, but with enough punkier elements thrown in as to not forget their past, the album is their most nuanced work both musically and lyrically. Frank’s voice is stunning, bringing together his ability to scream his heart out as well as croon like Sinatra. It’s this as well as Dean’s guitar that glue the record together. A definite step in the right direction.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.