Review Summary: A rattlesnake without its rattle.
As you experience the closing seconds of “End of Suffering”, with its sombre piano melody sluggishly commandeering the album’s exit with the same kind of lacklustre performance the rest of the record has shown, you should be well-versed in the band’s intended acclimation. To say End of Suffering
is the very definition of ambivalence would be a somewhat understated description of my overall feelings towards The Rattlesnakes’ third effort. I’m a massive fan of Modern Ruin
and an even bigger advocate of their debut album, Blossom
, so it comes with a heavy heart that I have to poke holes in End of Suffering
for, essentially, being a pallid collection of faceless indie-rock songs with elements of experimentation that function as a Deus Ex Machina, to prevent the record from being a complete waste of time. For anyone who’s been paying close attention, it should probably come as no surprise that we’re at this junction; Frank has been shifting towards this kind of sound since his departure from Gallows all those years ago. His failed attempts with Pure Love saw a revaluation and the subsequent birth of The Rattlesnakes: a fan-rejoicing hardcore triumph that saw Frank returning to his once perfected element. Dubiously, Modern Ruin
was a surprise shift into the ill-fated sound of Pure love, albeit with an understanding for Blossom
’s more serrated punk sensibilities being married into this newly melodic-driven tool set. Anyone with a penchant for guessing future events will have had the foresight of where End of Suffering
was heading – especially when considering the unnerving singles that were released prior to the album’s full unveiling – but it doesn’t stop the pill from being any less difficult to swallow.
In short, The Rattlesnakes have shed the most important skin from their arsenal of sounds: their anger – a trait that once distinguished them from their peers. One’s notion on this being bad because it lacks even a morsel of harsh screams or the classic southern snarl of previous iterations shouldn’t feel entirely discouraged by the thought, because the more you hear End of Suffering
the more overtly apparent it is that something integral is missing here. What this album predominantly consists of is hollow, groove-based rock songs with a weak pulse. The novelty of the Queens of the Stone Age orientated “Tyrant Lizard King”’s sleaze and swagger, or the fuzzed out post punk of “Love Games” soon become vacant memories as you struggle to stay invested in the bland rock numbers of “Crowbar” and “Heartbreaker” – watching the album regress and homogenize itself into a flavourless soup. Frank has come a long way in terms of honing and bettering his singing voice, but his limited range turns into a repetitive slog by the halfway mark of the record – he just isn’t equipped to hold the weight of a song when the instrumentals take a backseat. Which brings me on to a mirrored issue with the album’s instrumentals, in that they are just as lucid and half-baked as the vocals. The music pertained here isn’t as sharp or as tight as previous offerings; the sloppy transitions found in the third quarters of “Why a Butterfly Can’t Love a Spider” and “Heartbreaker” bring jarring tonal shifts to what the rest of each song offers. But even with that aside, the riffs themselves feel uninspired and blunt. The lethargic and repetitive songwriting for “Latex Dreams”, “Little Devil” and “Kitty Sucker” really intensify the pacing issues with this album, but it also continues to highlight the perplexing decision to do away with the band’s most significant facet for End of Suffering
Look, I don’t want to keep beating on the fact End of Suffering
lacks the band’s signature abrasive qualities, but its lack of inclusion has had a detrimental effect on the quality and feeling of not only the LP but the way the band sounds. As mentioned earlier, the album’s more experimental lean on the prosaic indie-rock riff is its only saving grace – bar Frank’s occasionally well-executed hooks for songs like “Anxiety”. “Angel Wings” is the only track on here to elevate the band’s sonic endeavours, and it does so with such grace and ease it makes it stand out like a sore thumb. The track isn’t without its hilarious ironies either, centring its theme around lethargy. Its dreamlike composition and Frank’s lyrics – which delve into reality’s hardships going away with the assistance of medication and alcohol – create what is easily the most successful and experimentally engaging track of this entire experience.
Yes, End of Suffering
is a massive disappointment that fails to progress the band because of egregious creative decisions, but it’s not an offensively bad album – just one that lacks the skill set to execute these newer ideas with an independent frame of mind. The most valuable analogy I can give for End of Suffering
is to imagine Modern Ruin
stripped of its harsher elements with diluted – sometimes cheapened – melodic hooks. There are a few enjoyable moments to be had, and the sample of Frank talking to his daughter in the closing track is effectively touching, but the bottom line is that this is a fragmented record that’s ultimately eclipsed by previous achievements. It seems narrow-minded to try and pigeonhole Frank as being at his best when he’s screaming and shouting, but essentially that’s where he’s always excelled as an artist. And unfortunately, the proof is in the pudding: The Rattlesnakes’ creative ambitions result in that absence here, ergo End of Suffering
sounds unfulfilled and damaged because of it. In the end, what you’re left with is a generic rock album with a couple of noteworthy moments and an aftertaste that will probably alienate a few long-time fans of the band.
FORMAT//EDITIONS: CD-BOOK/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶/̶/̶V̶A̶R̶I̶O̶U̶S̶ ̶B̶U̶N̶D̶L̶E̶S̶
PACKAGING: The CD-book is a hardback book that comes with the album and contains a collection of guitar tabs, studio photos and lyrics.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.internationaldeathcult.com/