Review Summary: Keep on swinging
What’s in a name? Everything apparently. The debate over which is better – Frank or Wade’s Gallows – rages incessantly on the internet’s intellectual hot-spots; Last FM pages and YouTube video comments. Luckily, the group gives their verdict in a typically defiant fashion. “Everybody loves you/when you’re f*cking dead” barks MacNeil on the similarly titled second track. The implication here is that Gallows, or at least what remained of them after Carter’s departure, would rather burn out enveloped in failure than slide cosily into awed reverence after a mere two albums.
is better or worse than what came before is a moot point. Some of the hallmarks remain; wanton aggression, breakneck pace and disparate moods planted throughout. What does stand out here is the album’s lean qualities. Eleven songs fly by in a matter of 32 minutes; fat trimmed, excesses dispensed with and a more palatable, back-to-basics approach is implemented. In accordance with their imposed and circumstantial philosophy, Gallows concentrate solely on the present and my word, these fellas have a LOT to say about the modern world.
Where songs like “London Is The Reason” became the soundtrack to England’s 2011 summer riots, Gallows’ newly-found trans-Atlantic flavour means that further, wider issues are being explored. The notion that Gallows are happy to highlight and subsequently tear down the zeitgeist is very much apparent. The upcoming U.S. elections provide the ammunition against the “religious right” on “Cult Of Mary”; the child’s chorus singing along with MacNeil providing a suitably macabre take on things. “Victim Culture” bulldozes the increasingly litigious state of affairs those nations either side of the ocean have to endure. “In us we trust,” growls MacNeil before his cohorts join him in affirming that “victim culture’s on the rise.” “Austere” might well appeal to those feeling the squeeze as a result of the economic crises and world government attempts at belt-tightening, and whilst “Vapid Adolescent Blues” could alienate a sizeable number of their fanbase, it is dead on in its assessment of a world becoming dumb and dumber by the minute.
An uninspired choice at first, MacNeil sounds very much at home with Gallows. The group too sound a lot more comfortable and free to express themselves. As much as a talisman that Carter could be, his persistent will-he-or-won’t-he-leave pantomime became as much a part of the band as the music itself. Instead, everyone involved contributes with aplomb. There is not one note out of place; the music remaining tight, aggressive and addictive throughout. Gallows once again sound like a gang with their backs to the wall displaying a newfound sense of ‘f*ck the world.’ Then again, it’s already f*cked.
“You can stare at a car crash/but it’ll stare right back” state Gallows on “Odessa”. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where Gallows might have turned into a sputtering wreck on the side of the road, they have instead gone eyeball-to-eyeball with all and sundry, releasing what is perhaps their most defining statement thus far.