Gallows - Self-Titled
Record Label: Bridge Nine/Venn Records
Release Date: September 11, 2012
In a perfect world, a slight hiccup in writing and a change in ranks wouldn’t derail even the most enigmatic punk band. But now hiding in the shadows with a message just as explosive as the band’s now less desperate sonic leanings, Gallows springs at nearly every opportunity on their self-titled, third full-length. It seems in the whirlwind of razor-sharp guitars and inspired lyricism via Wade MacNeil’s coarse bellow, there’s a lot to be heard and said about what the new formula will do not only for the band, but their part in the an ever-moving punk scene aching for the next move from a bleak realization of a world seemingly foretold by Gallows' last LP Grey Britain. But armored in a blanket of addictive grime and anthemic calls to overturn the struggle, Gallows silences any doubters with a curb stomp of gritty punk rock – making this a true continuation of the band's sneer attitude and angsty rebellion.
MacNeil is sure to be the pinpoint of debate even though he nailed down most criticism on the band’s tiding of the Death is Birth EP last year. Yet, his two-toned approach gives a different shade of emotion to what is likewise a double-sided axe of timbres in the musical department – clean(er) vocals from “Vapid Adolescent Blues” and “Cross of Lorraine” carry the weight well enough with just a hint of rasp to balance out the sure-fire sizzle of gang-vocalled mortar blasts (“Victim Culture”, “Last June”). For those who might argue the band has gone a bit soft, MacNeil’s just gritty enough vocal lines balance out even the most upbeat moments the disc offers to ground the band from sounding a bit too uninterested in their dissonant licks of the past.
Don’t take that the wrong way though. While Gallows has certainly found a flexibility in a severely tough to kick base of slimy guitars, this album without a doubt finds its footing in and around that foundation without being afraid to be a little more punk-rock and a little less hardcore. “Outsider Art” is arguably the poppiest of the bunch, if you can say that, but its beefy rhythmic spine makes it an undeniable stomper in the face of fellow kick-drum anchored hook-wielder “Last June” and the tension-filled, though not quite as successful “Odessa”. On the flip, Gallows’ heavy-side is still just as poignant, though fine-tuned to a point of insistence on unconventional hooking through repetition and dissonant riffing. “Vapid” starts off on such a foot, though the slightly stationary riff takes a bit to latch on to. “Depravers” gives us a similar slightly catchy treatment – though with a certainly darker undertow throughout – while “Cult of Mary” brings despair from nearly every angle as MacNeil again finds emotion in strong cleans (‘Dying with the living, living like the dead / You’ve got all my sick devotion, We’ll find heaven in worn out beds’) while a gripping chorus gives way to a rhythmically crushing bridge.
Wade does enough though to tie things up nice enough for Gallows fans in the lyrical department – whether you’re looking for political thoughts (“Last June”), social views or personal recollections (“Cross of Lorraine”). It was odd enough to hear people consider the arguably biggest hook of the record on “Last June” basically get called immature because it centered around the character of a particular authority figure. But in honesty, sometimes the cuts aren’t quite as obvious, other times they think a bit harder than you’d probably like them to (“Nations”) – it’s really the give and take of this record. Sometimes there’s something quite political fueling the proceedings, but in the bulk of things, Gallows centers much around the fact that yes, we do only live this one life and that death is quite inevitable. The question is, what are we going to do about the time we have now? I wouldn’t say this record has some hidden answer, but it does speak quite well to the fact that we, regardless of who the person might be listening to this record, don’t have to let everything in this world go by without questioning, challenging or going against it.
Gallows will arguably divide the fanbase between a hint of less grit at times and a vocalist not quite harnessing the same volatile nature as before – therefore yielding what is arguably the band’s most diverse record in terms of execution. But in embracing a few different things and honing in a bit more on the present they’ve seen unfold in front of them, Gallows seem poised to remind us all just what it is they’re good at – igniting a fire inside of people who may have become complacent in their place in a rather dismal world.
Too be honest i'm not really digging this. The ep was great, this however just kinda feels half complete. to me. I prefer Gallows with Frank but i'm digging Pure Love and can't wait to hear that album.