A new EP, the aptly-titled Death is Birth followed in late 2011 and then under new label Venn Records (in partnership with PIAS Recordings), they finally confirmed the release date and title of their third full-length album in 2012. "We made this record self-titled as it musically defines the band known as Gallows as we exist today” they proudly declared. Hence here I have the result; its release on September 10th just looming on the horizon. “I don’t care about anyone else, I want to make a record that I like” says Steph on the band’s recent documentary (accompanies the album’s deluxe edition). With this suitably defiant statement in mind, I was more than ready to hear the fruits of their labours. The first track released was ‘Last June’, which exploded into the public’s conscience; an angry retort at the Toronto riots which in turn hit a chord with those who experienced and witnessed the brutality of London’s own youth-led feuds. With its merciless rhythm, unyielding guitars and powerful lyrics, it was a great insight into the band’s new mindset and a preview of the albums intent. Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by long-term friends (and Spycatcher members) Thomas Mitchener and Steve Sears, the newly-revived Gallows were off and running.
Watch 'Last June':
And sure enough opener, ‘Victim Culture’ stamps its authority and marks its territory like a rabies-ridden mutt. Beginning like one of those hugely inappropriate American infomercials, you’re bombarded with Doctor-like enquiries - “Do you suffer nervous breakdowns?”, “Are you often plagued by nightmares?”; the illusion quickly shattered as fiery gang vocals soar, rapid riffs erupt and Stuart's familiar body-rattling bassline leaves a trail of destruction. As it crashes into the equally feral ‘Everybody Loves You (When You're Dead)’, you’re struck with just under two and a half minutes of wailing guitars, pounding drums and Wade’s ferocious words. “There’s no-one left in heaven and hell is just a hoax!” he croaks before the track builds into an almighty climax. It’s a great track with a simplicity and British grit that’s captivating. Although I was more intrigued and taken aback by ‘Outsider Art’; the latest track to be released and given the music video treatment. It takes a minute to build tension and suspense before settling into a mature yet familiar hardcore stance. An Every Time I Die-esque breakdown slows things down at one point as Wade seems to convulse and choke on his own words to great effect.
Watch 'Outsider Art':
‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ is a break-neck speed punk rock wave with syncopated rhythms and lashings of glorious gang vocals. ‘Austere’ follows suit with Lee’s rolling rhythms hitting hard and fast and Wade becoming almost incoherent in his untamed and rabid ramblings. The discordant six-string work is notably admirable too; the dark and unsettling cloud they invoke grabs your gut and twists accordingly. ‘Depravers’ is just as unnerving with the intimidating shadow of the vocalist standing tall here. He spits and roars like the pro that he undeniably is. Here they cleverly veer to and from a straightforward punk structure into a southern-rock style akin to Canadian punkers, Cancer Bats. I love the particularly nasty breakdown; the fire from the chugging finale still burned inside long after it finished. ‘Odessa’ with its memorable chorus and melancholic melody has become a firm favourite of mine. It’s just as vicious as others but has a certain controlled energy that’s especially attractive. ‘Nations / Never Enough’ on the other hand is as aggressive as they come. It stomps, thrashes and protests with an unparalleled force all the while managing to remain focused and strong throughout.
It’s perhaps obvious by now, but I can’t honestly pick out anything I don’t like from Gallows’ new opus. Even as the end crept closer, its appeal somehow grew. ‘Cult Of Mary’ is a hugely passionate number with an unrelenting and unforgettable energy. The singer bellows with vigour in the melodic and catchy refrains, but it’s in the last minute that it truly takes hold of you. An explosion of anguished cries and ruthless, ear-battering metal-tinged musicianship made my soul quiver. And as it finally diminishes, you’re left with the haunting repetition of “Cult of Mary, crucify Christ, pagan blood for the religious Reich” in your temporal lobe. Last track, ‘Cross Of Lorraine’ has a progressive edge which is more in line with Mastodon and the slow-burning metallic power that they harness. Its final minute is a sludgy, heavy and hostile blitz which drives every one of its bullets in one by one with a hammer-force. Astounding.
“This is our statement of intent, our laugh in the face of those who said Gallows were done when in reality we're just warming up. We couldn't feel more vindicated and proud” the band state in the album’s press release. And a statement couldn’t be more true to its word. Who thought that a Canadian heart would bring out the best in a battered and bruised British body? I was optimistic with the change as I said from the start, and I’m thrilled to have been proven right. Gallows Mark II are a braver, more focused, more assertive incarnation who should indeed be immensely proud of what they have achieved here. Frank-ly my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Gallows self-titled album is out September 10th.
Worth Listening To...
- Everybody Loves You (When You're Dead)
- Outsider Art