It may not have been the clear-cut voyage Gallows set out on in 2005, but as ‘Desolation Sounds’ pulls them over the 10-year mark, there’s still plenty of miles left on the clock.
Label: Venn / Play It Again Sam
Released: 13th April 2015
Gallows needed to make a statement with this seventh release, and second full-length with Wade McNeil (Alexisonfire, Black Lungs) at the helm. Thankfully the messaging on the 10-track outing says more about where this Watford-formed quartet are going, than where they came from.
Without feeling the need to bury those ‘Orchastra of Wolves’ beginnings altogether (which, let’s face it, still form the backbone to the British mob’s live set), Gallows conquer new ground here. Gruff and tortured territory it may be, it takes tracks like ‘Leather Crown’ and ‘Swan Song’ to convince you there’s still life after ‘Grey Britain’.
In fact, Gallows’ time under the wing of a major label feels like yonks ago. They may’ve captured the hearts of the UK’s punk scene circa 2009, with founding singer, Frank Carter, but it’s ‘Desolation Sounds’ that bares the marks of a band who’ve finally forged their own path.
Sure, the sheer aggression of ‘Mystic Death’ may not shoot them to the top of main stage festival bills, but it puts them back at the forefront of ferocious hardcore. Crucially, singles ‘Bonfire Season’ and ‘Chains’ make a lot more sense once settled into the entirety of the finished record; with the hallow cracks that crept in during radio play, filled with lingering chimes and creepy interludes.
Flying the flag for their own label, Venn Records, the foursome have set sail on an altogether sludgier sea. Guitarist, Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard, swirls his riffs around McNeil’s gruelling vocals, while bassist, Stuart Gili-Ross, and drummer, Lee Barratt, create pounding beats to tear up the tide.
Having never denied the magnitude of following in Carter’s footsteps back in 2011, the Canadian war-machine, McNeil, – who announced a string of reunion shows with Alexisonfire ahead of this release – has remoulded the frontman role. His vocals twist and turn relentlessly between the battle cries of ‘93/93’ and ‘Leviathan’, into the crisp chants of ‘Death Valley Blue’.
It may not have been the clear-cut voyage Gallows set out on in 2005, but as ‘Desolation Sounds’ pulls them over the 10-year mark, there’s still plenty of miles left on the clock. Wherever they go from here, it’ll be them calling the shots. Jessica Bridgeman