Death Is Birth EP

Written by: PP on 18/02/2012 17:35:13

I must admit that when Frank Carter split with Gallows I thought the band were toast. A vocalist leaving a band is always a difficult issue, but Carter was one of the most iconic, enigmatic frontmen in modern British hardcore, often described as a 'cunt' in both his appearance and his demeanor on and off-stage. His vulgar, loud-mouth approach to lyrics on "Orchestra Of Wolves" and chaotic, dangerous live shows earned him and the band a £1 million cash advance in a major label bidding war won by Warner, which the band used to record an ambitious and brilliant depiction of the state of affairs in Britain today on "Grey Britain". It was simultaneously a murky, an aggressive, and a heavy record to the dismay of Warner and their hopes of breaking the band into the radio and translating their explosive live reputation into cash flows, an ordeal many today classify as the biggest heist in rock'n'roll since the Sex Pistols, and subsequently the band were dropped off the label, but got to keep all the cash.

It didn't take long before Carter and the band ran into problems regarding the future musical direction of the band. Many were wondering whether it was due to Carter wishing to continue his methodological dissection of the British culture through a similar halfway progressive hardcore format as that presented on "Grey Britain" when the remaining members of the band were hoping for a return to the straight forward run-and-gun style of "Orchestra Of Wolves", or perhaps vice versa? That's the question answered by "Death Is Birth" EP, for which Gallows hired Wade MacNeil, the third screamer from Alexisonfire, to join their ranks as their primary vocalist. It's an interesting move considering Wade's from Canada and Gallows are primarily based in London, so the long-term effects are still a little unclear. But for what it's worth, Wade demonstrates remarkable improvement from his Alexisonfire days and fills the gaping Carter hole nicely - at least to some extent.

Referring back to the direction change, Wade's vocals on "Death is Birth" as well as the instrumentation suggest that the rest of the Gallows just wanted to return to writing groovy, relatively straight-forward high-octane hardcore with no clean vocals. But if you were expecting a return to "Orchestra Of Wolves" you will be sorely disappointed. Instead of regressing to the distinctly London-esque, angry and pissed off form of hardcore, Gallows have taken a third direction and one that (unfortunately) separates their English connection from their music altogether, a feat almost certainly attributable to MacNeil's entry to the band. Where the band has previously stood triumphantly as the flagship of English hardcore - the London branch in particular - they now sound more like your average gritty hardcore band, drawing comparisons to acts like Cancer Bats and even The Bronx in places. It lacks the same character and the ability to state with confidence that this is a Gallows song when you hear it on the background of some bar or even a hardcore-oriented radio station, where previously you could do so without a question.

That said, songs like "Mondo Chaos" and "Death Is Birth" are unexpectedly catchy and groovy, and indeed much better than I initially expected the band to be able to produce without Carter at the helm. They suggest that Gallows have a bright future ahead of them when they eventually release their third album. However, it is nonetheless difficult to deny that "Death Is Birth" is simply inferior to previous Gallows output if for no other reason than the lack of Carter's unique delivery and lyrical universe. Where Gallows could have become the seminal UK hardcore band of their generation in the next couple of albums (although some argue they are that already due to "Grey Britain"), they have now been reduced to just being a good band but one that's difficult to separate from their dozens of like-minded peers.


Download: Mondo Chaos, Death Is Birth
For the fans of: Cancer Bats, The Bronx
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.12.2011
Thirty Days Of Night Records

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