It is an unfortunate fact that almost every review of Gallows’ third album will begin with the story of how vocalist and founding member Frank Carter left the band in July 2011, when all the band want to do is begin the next chapter of their career.
Even so, it is when you place this self-titled LP in the context of their recent history that you really appreciate what has been achieved here.
For ‘Gallows’ is far more expansive than the material on the ‘Death is Birth’ EP, released at the tail end of last year. The band hinted that the sound was going to be much heavier than their previous work, but not many could have expected how colossal it would be.
An eerie introduction signals the arrival of ‘Victim Culture’, which sets the bar for levels of brutality and intensity early on. Still present are the unifying group vocals that graced many a track on 2009’s ‘Grey Britain’. Also remaining is Stu Gili-Ross’ barbarous bass playing which leaves its mark on the entire album. It serves as one of many reminders that while the band has evolved over the last year, this is still very much a Gallows record.
‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)’ starts with a dexterous Laurent Barnard guitar solo, before developing into a memorable track that is more far-reaching than any punk song has the right to be.
Fans of the band are already familiar with the bass-heavy ‘Last June’, which was released as a free download on the announcement of the album’s release date. As rip-roaring as it sounded as a standalone track, it’s even better when slotted amongst its counterparts. ‘Outside Art’ follows, and is the closest thing to an anthem that Gallows have ever written. The backing vocals gel excellently with Wade MacNeil’s raw tones, and one wonders just how powerful this would sound in the live environment.
‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ sounds as hardcore as it comes to begin with, before the emergence of a monumental chorus staples the track down as an immediate highlight.
‘I’m fighting for my future, I’m fighting with my past’, MacNeil sings on ‘Depravers’, which is sandwiched in between ‘Austere’ and ‘Odessa’ in a trio of songs that don’t reach the three minute mark. ‘Odessa’ is arguably the pick of this bunch, infectious as anything else on the album.
The home straight begins with ‘Nations’ and the ten second snippet that is ‘Never Enough’, before ‘Cult of Mary’ and ‘Cross of Lorraine’ power through to the finishing line. ‘Dying with the living, living like the dead’, is roared over more classic Gallows guitar work on ‘Cult of Mary’, whilst the latter song has enough energy to open most albums, despite its inclusion here as the final track.
While there is only 32 minutes of material here, the collection still feels substantial. As a complete body of work, ‘Gallows’ proves that the band is still capable of laying down an exceptional album in the studio, just as they have shown over the past year that their live shows are still every bit as exhilarating despite their change in personnel.
When September comes, fans of Gallows will realise that there was never a reason for concern. There’s no deadwood here, just the prime cuts. This is an album destined for critical acclaim.
There is no ‘Gallows with Wade.’ There is no Gallows V2.0. There is just Gallows.
Rated 9 out of 10
‘Gallows’ is released 10th September on Venn Records.