International Death Cult
Far from where the headliners were grandstanding, on a tiny stage near the edge of a raceway a small crowd stood quietly waiting for a band that most had never heard before to take the stage. As pop groups like 3OH!3 and Brokencyde took the stage alongside Canadian screamo giants like Alexisonfire and Silverstein, it was clear that the Warped Tour scene was transitioning away from its punk roots. But those who had remained through the heat of the day were lucky enough to witness a group of black clad young men emerge from the haze. Frank Carter and Gallows proceeded to put on one of the most cathartic live sets I have witnessed in decades of concerts. The angry Carter spewed venom like a rattlesnake, his vitriolic lyrics supported by the chaotic musical accompaniment. The band got out into the crowd and took a violent beating alongside those lucky enough to witness the spectacle. I immediately fell in love with bleak Grey Britain, which remains one of my favourite albums to this day. Few bands have ever lived up to that level of live intensity and most (The Chariot, Minor Threat, At the Drive In) no longer exist.
Like most great things, Gallows soon went down in flames. Frank Carter and his brother left the group, while the band continued on releasing mediocre music with Wade MacNeil (Black Lungs, Alexisonfire), as Carter worked on music with short lived project Pure Love.
Frank Carter has returned with a vengeance on Blossoms. The album begins with the aptly named Juggernaut, a raging hardcore blast that easily eclipses anything his former band mates have released since Grey Britain. It a wildly angry call to arms, as he screams even on my own you can’t stop me. Listening to the rest of the album, it becomes clear that he isn’t boasting. This is an energetic collection of hardcore and punk tracks with some of the musical depth that made his final Gallows appearance so great.
Lyrically, the album centres largely around dark themes. On Paradise, he attacks suicide bombers and their faith, slowing things down to a sludge metal level as he sings with a voice reminiscent of Silverchair’s debut. Each moment of calm respite is tempered with vigilance and Carter is back to tearing his vocal cords to shreds again on Loss, which chronicles everything that he has lost, as he screams it’s fucking lonely and we all die too. There is no escaping the darkness in his world, as everything crumbles. Tempos frequently shift to prevent monotony. He is singing again on Beautiful Death, which plods along at a crawling pace. It maximizes the effects of changing pace, in a way that only Envy could equal. Although most comfortable as a hardcore album, the dirty blues closer I Hate You is a wonderful way to end on a high note. Carter’s thick accent spews out angry lines like it makes me violently angry when I see you alive, while his singing vocals again bring to mind Silverchair’s Daniel Johns.
Frank Carter has returned with a vengeance, smashing sonic stereotypes and aiming his hatred at anyone unfortunate enough to get in his way. While always underrated in previous roles, he has honed his performance to deliver his most solid release yet. The Rattlesnakes effectively back up their leader’s vocals with relentless energy and expanded musical talent. A solid release from start to finish, Blossom showcases a musician at the top of his game.