Written by: PP on 24/09/2012 09:22:39

One of the toughest album reviews to write in 2012 is the review of the third Gallows album, their first full-length since the much-discussed and oft-cited split between their enigmatic vocalist Frank Carter and the rest of the band. "Gallows" was always going to be an album that was going to be a subject of heated debate not least amongst their own fan-base, especially because its title seems to suggest rather assertively that this is the new, reformed Gallows, and this is the sound we are to expect from here onward, a significant departure from their genre-classic "Grey Britain" released in 2009. It's a record that builds from the expression first presented to us on "Death Is Birth" EP, one that fundamentally changes their direction as a band from ambitious, forward-thinking hardcore of "Grey Britain" into a more tightly knit and uncompromising, perhaps even traditional hardcore style instead.

"Grey Britain" was a murky reflection of the state of affairs in Britain, a gloomy and extremely ambitious album that conceptualized the idea of Britain as an entity into a complex soundscape that only began to unfold itself after weeks or even months later from first listen. In comparison, "Gallows" will in many ways feel like a step down in ambition, clearly underlining what the split was all about: Frank wanted to push the envelope and take their quintessentially British hardcore sound into places beyond the confines of the genre, whereas the rest of the band just wanted to play relentlessly fast and uncompromising hardcore with a menacing stance.

Consequently, "Gallows" is a much darker, more aggressive, and more hardcore/punk rooted record than its predecessor, one that leads with an attitude that screams "I'm not giving in an inch" all-around. In the process, some of their national identity is undoubtedly lost, but it is replaced by Wade MacNeil's ferocious coming-of-age as a vocalist where he establishes himself as ready for prime-time, a significant upgrade from support duties in his previous band Alexisonfire. He screams and yells with a burning passion, delivering a fiery and truly ravaging performance throughout the album, taking the first steps in establishing himself with a recognizable identity in the vein of contemporaries like Liam Cormier from Cancer Bats. He has a strong, fearless presence, and he is backed by instrumentals that occasionally lean on the groovier side of hardcore (think The Bronx etc) all the while sourcing their sound from the origins of the rebellious punk/hardcore movement. But most of all, the unit as a whole has the kind of urgency and immediacy that they simply didn't have before. "Orchestra Of Wolves" won people over because of its crude simplicity and its associated mental live show, "Grey Britain" appealed to the more intellectual side of us, and now "Gallows" presents a sound that's best characterized by unadulterated, primal rage.

So despite my initial prejudices being a Frank Carter fan, "Gallows" is a solid hardcore record. It's a wholly different style than we're used to hearing from the band, and arguably isn't as unique and instantly recognizable as their sound in the past, but the band compensate with more energy and fury than ever before to make their transition (or evolution, if you like) effective and complete by any standards.


Download: Last June, Odessa, Everyone Loves You (When You're Dead)
For the fans of: The Bronx, Cancer Bats,
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Release date 10.09.2012
Venn Records

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