Review Summary: Like a dilapidated house with nothing in it.
For me, I’ve always found English punk bands quite alluring. All walks of punk music are great, but there’s just something UK punk has that can’t be imitated anywhere else. That snarled English accent just seems to dignify the sound, bringing attitude and a saw-edge to the music before you even get to the instrumentals. It’s a unique quality from the off, but when the artist opts for a raw and grimy lo-fi sound, it enhances the intensity further. Blossom
, Frank Carter’s debut album with the Rattlesnakes, highlights this sentiment perfectly: a record chock-full of white-hot rage, vulnerable production choices that bring a genuine humanity to the album, and an honest message for each track that’s served up using that
English delivery. It's a recipe made with lasting appeal.
So, where am I going with this？ Well, Acts of Fear and Love
contains some of these elements, just on a very superficial level. “The Lives They Wish They Had” grabbed my attention enough to see where the rest of the record would go; a stripped back and primitive production with the kind of simplified instrumentation you’d expect from Never Mind The Bollocks
, underlined by an observation on society’s consumerist obsessions leading to its own slavery. A little cliché at this point, sure, but the execution, and its damp production, offers a half-decent track nonetheless. However, in hindsight this 29-minute album fails to convince anyone it has substance. From the mind-numbing repetition of “Cut and Run”, to the outright pointless “Photo Opportunity”, there’s a persistent niggle of futility and lack of skill involved here. Even though songs average at the 3-minute mark, they just feel cumbersome and lethargic. “Artificial Intelligence” gets to the point where you want to pull teeth in frustration from its complete lack of energy; a barrage of monotonously flaccid guitar riffs and metronome styled drum beats. While “Acts of Fear and Love” sounds so vacant and devoid of melody, hook or power it should have never made the tracklist – let alone be made the album closer – to begin with.
It’s not a complete disaster, mind. “Bugs” has a fuzzed-out riff reminiscent of Nirvana’s Bleach
days and a vocal delivery showing a smidgen of effort for once. Meanwhile, “Magnolia” offers a healthy dose of 70s styled sleaze-rock with actual song progression. But honestly, in a deck of completely flat, horrifyingly basic tracks that suffer from a bulking void, the positive mentions here are bound to look good, aren’t they？ Besides the aesthetic and the band’s use of the genre’s associated early traits of simplistic songwriting and instrumentation, found in the adolescent years of punk, there’s little here to distinguish it as the punk album they’re trying to convince you it is. While the remainder of the LP’s characteristics fall into a lo-fi well of nothingness and should be avoided accordingly.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
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