Gallows – Self-Titled Album Review

In July of 2011, Frank Carter, the snarling, cocky, explosive front man of the UK-based hardcore band Gallows left the band over creative differences, and it seemed like the band was done for. After the band pulled what the Guardian called one of the great rock n’ roll swindles, it seemed that the face of all that rage would be impossible to replace.

The band would tap ex-Alexisonfire screamer Wade MacNeil as the new tattooed face of a band that was seemingly the most important hardcore happening of the past decade. Early reviews were a bit mixed on Gallows’ new material and touring performances. It wasn’t that MacNeil wasn’t a good fit for the band necessarily, but Gallows previous material was very British, and somehow hearing a Canadian scream, “London is the reason,” just didn’t resonate as hard.

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“We made this record self-titled as it musically defines the band known as Gallows as we exist today. 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.”
- Gallows, on Gallows

 

For all intents and purposes, Gallows are now a new band. So it is fitting that their third album, and first full-length since the departure of Carter, is named like a debut self-titled album. From the ominous chanting that opens up the first track, “Victim Culture”, it is clear that Gallows as a band are still able to realize the important piece they are placing into the hardcore realm right now. The guitars are howling and dirty, and MacNeil has found his balance with the band. His voice is angry, though without the swagger of Carter — but the music reflects it. The gang vocals carry the British accents that recall the angst and anger of Sex Pistols. There is nothing forced about it. Gallows are still angry at the world and ready to tell everyone about it as violently as possible.

“Vapid Adolescent Blues” blasts in with the ferocity of Black Flag and a more American brand of hardcore before Gallows hop into what is almost a trademarked type of catchiness for the band. On this effort, the band has realized that the newest musical swindle is to convince indie rock kids that hardcore still matters. The distortion echoing from the guitars in “Austere” are enough to make you feel uncomfortable, pulling in aspects from grindcore more than anything else; “Cross of Lorraine” starts in with a vicious guitar riff and finishes with a song that is more reflective of the post-hardcore styling of MacNeil’s old band Alexisonfire than a working class, tattooed, hardcore band out of Watford, England.

In 2012, reunited Swedish hardcore band Refused went on a sold-out American tour, and played at Coachella with a hologram of Tupac. Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up’s last album David Comes to Life ended up universally praised and on top of a whole lot of Best of 2011 lists. After the release of Grey Britain in 2009, it seemed that Gallows were spearheading the new hardcore movement — that in which kids were listening to hardcore without being aware it was hardcore. Carter’s departure offset this trajectory, but Gallows is a step back in the right direction. MacNeil lacks the swagger of his predecessor, but the band has adapted strategically. Gallows no longer spits in your face on first notice; it more eyes you up and down and dishes out a well-placed punch to the stomach.

GALLOWS TRACKLISING
1. Victim Culture
2. Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)
3. Last June
4. Outsider Art
5. Vapid Adolescent Blues
6. Austere
7. Depravers
8. Odessa
9. Nations – Never Enough
10. Cult of Mary
11. Cross of Lorraine

GALLOWS TOUR DATES
w/ Barn Burner
Nov 02 – Baltimore, MD @ The Ottobar
Nov 03 – New York, NY @ The Studio @ Webster Hall
Nov 04 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Loft @ The Chance
Nov 06 – Montreal, QC, Canada @ La Sala Rossa
Nov 07 – Ottawa, ON, Canada @ Mavericks Bar
Nov 08 – Toronto, ON, Canada @ Lee’s Palace
Nov 09 – Hamilton, ON, Canada @ The Underground
Nov 10 – London, ON, Canada @ Call The Office
Nov 12 – Hamtramck, MI @ Smalls
Nov 13 – Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Nov 15 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Nov 16 – Winnipeg, MB, Canada @ Pyramid Cabaret
Nov 17 – Regina, SK, Canada @ The Exchange
Nov 20 – Edmonton, AB, Canada @ The Pawn Shop
Nov 22 – Calgary, AB, Canada @ Republik
Nov 24 – Vancouver, BC, Canada @ The Rickshaw Theatre
Nov 25 – Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
Nov 26 – Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre

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