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ATP! Album Review: Gallows - S/T

Any band losing someone as notorious as Frank Carter is always likely to have their next release poured over with more scrutiny than ever before. Replacing the markedly English frontman with a Canadian, as Gallows have done with the recruitment of Wade MacNeil, was only ever going to raise more eyebrows amongst fans.

Let’s deal with the question on everyone’s lips straight away then, shall we? Far from attempting to fill Carter’s shoes, MacNeil brings his own snarling style and approach to Gallows. He sounds just as pissed, just as bilious, but brings a southern edge that adds a new dimension to the band. "Orchestra of Wolves" and "Grey Britain" were inherently English releases, bred from a typically British outlook at how the country was going to hell. Gallows’ self-titled third release is a much more transatlantic affair, adding touches of southern rock to their firebrand punk, and MacNeil’s role in this stylistic change is not to be understated. Carter may be gone, but he need not be missed.

In truth, the album starts in fairly uninspiring fashion. ‘Victim Culture’, ‘Everybody Loves You’ and ‘Last June’ are by-the-numbers modern punk – there’s nothing wrong with them, but Gallows have released these songs in more impressive guise before. It is not until ‘Outsider Art’ that they hit their stride; embracing their melodic side more than ever before highlighting the bands’ multi-faceted nature in reaching a breakdown not dissimilar to Every Time I Die at full flow.  

"Gallows" is still an angry, confrontational album – would you ever expect anything else from Gallows? But where previously the tone may have been condemnatory, MacNeil finds a more redemptive voice than Carter ever strived for. ‘Last June’ and ‘Austere’ may still attack the country that spawned them, but lyrics such as, “dying with the living, living like the dead/you’ve got all my sick devotion, we’ll find heaven in worn out beds” on Cult of Mary speak to his resignation as to his own character, and his hope to find safety in that of another. Album closer Cross of Lorraine strikes a death knell in MacNeil’s hopes as he screams “always waiting for the death of the death of love”, another breakdown pummeling away to the record’s conclusion.

MacNeil’s band also continues to impress. The riffs themselves are akin to those found on their two previous albums, but all seem tighter, more in tune with each other than ever before. They retain that very-Gallows deconstructive quality, that feeling that the world is falling down outside and this is the last riff that will ever be played, but there is a positive energy here that was absent on "Grey Britain". Laurent Bernard and Steph Carter’s impressive interplay is particularly prominent on ‘Depravers’ and ‘Nations’, but the album as a whole is much more focussed and hard-hitting than on previous efforts.

Self-titled albums almost always mean one of three things; a debut album, a career-defining album from an established band, or a fresh start. "Gallows" is a perfect example of the third. Having lost their spearhead and spokesman, many expected Gallows to lay down and die. Instead, they have found a powerful replacement in the form of Wade MacNeil, embraced melody like never before and created some of the most impressive songs of their careers. It’s not perfect – the opening songs are disappointing and the record as a whole suffers for being overly repetitive – but a beefed-up production and Macneil’s acerbic vocal performance ensures that this is perhaps the hardest hitting Gallows album yet.

James Tremain


"Gallows" is out now via Bridge Nine Records.

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