Sunday, 9 September 2012

Review: Gallows - Gallows

 I've never really taken the time to think of the major issues and events that have encircled the world of Gallows over the last twelve months, whether you see it as unfortunate or not. However, when the band released the EP Death is Birth in December, the title came with a strong literal meaning. When original snarling frontman Frank Carter stated his decision to leave his position as frontman of the London punk warriors after, many fans saw it as the death of an era for Gallows, particularly since Carter had established himself as our generation's Johnny Rotten and his band as this generation's Sex Pistols with a more venomous hardcore edge over the course of two of the finest modern punk album Orchestra of Wolves and Grey Britain. It was the same fans that relentlessly mourned the departure of Carter that chose not to take kindly by the announcement two weeks after that the band had found a new frontman in Wade MacNeil, former guitarist in Canadian post hardcore heroes Alexisonfire. With that EP, the band proved that the death of one era of Gallows was the basis of a newer, stronger and more chaotic era, seeing them change into a far more violent and beefed up proposition. Obviously, there will still be fans that cannot deal with the fact that Frank has gone and a band that established the London punk scene is now being fronted by a Canadian, but man, if you can look pass that, the band's self titled album is going to give you a treat.

 As Death is Birth promised, the new lineup of Gallows prove themselves to be a much heavier, more beefed up outfit than they were before, but with the amount to which this album has seen them step up their delivery of only the most punishing, ferocious and skull-smashing music ever, MacNeil's promise that the next Gallows album will be "fucking amazing" has certainly been fulfilled. As Victim Culture's opening of paranoia inducing spoken questions creates a delirious buildup that finds it's bruising remedy in the monstrous slabs of bombing riffage from Laurent Barnard and Steph Carter an effective sendoff to what lies ahead.

 It's undoubtedly the increase in overall brutality that makes this album what it was. I mean, I was always aware in terms of overall density, Gallows had more to give than your average Your Demise or TRC record, but this sees things taken to a new level. It's Cater and "Lags" Barnard that prove themselves the men for this job as the hardcore rushes of Everybody Loves You (When You're Dead), Vapid Adolescent Blues and Nations/Never Enough are all perfectly charged up to oblivion shattering levels of steel plated girth, while the stoner friendly rock and roll riffing of Last June and Odessa provide some of the most crushing displays of classic rock and roll this side of Unsane's Total Destruction.

 Of course, there's no point of not taking advantage of the undeniably meatier set of vocals they've been given in the form of Wade MacNeil, and sure enough, his set of vocal bellowing ranging from deathly growls to scathing amounts of hissing, MacNeil has so much to give to these songs that gives them the exact brutal characteristic required. He even manages to create an uplifting moment of inspiration with rare use of melodic vocals on Outsider Art feeling like being immersed in an overwhelming mass of evil and having it feel like a good engaging prospect. Of course, Carter isn't afraid to join in with MacNeil in vocal assaults, to give a reminder that this is an album that celebrates the crust and grit of the streets of London.

 You could say that this is a departure from the Gallows we've come to know and love before and you're probably right. You could say they have indeed ditched the London personality in order to focus on just being a heavier more brutal band. And yes, that did happen. And it's incredible. Wade MacNeil brings his entire new personality and performance to the game that proves that trying to just find a replacement Frank Carter wasn't going to cut it. While the previous era of Gallows will always be a glorious reminder of what London punk is all about, Gallows mark 2 now serves as a thrilling reminder of what modern punk is about. It's about reaching new boundaries in terms of songwriting, density and gripping importance. And whether you view a new lineup in a modern classic band to be unfortunate or not, Gallows have definitely done that.

Gallows' Gallows is out now via Shock Records. The band will tour the UK in October with Feed the Rhino and Brotherhood of the Lake.

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