So, your bicycle has been in the repair shop, getting a new front wheel fitted (the old one unexpectedly broke loose after six-odd years of loyal service). You’re excited, but slightly nervous, mainly because it’s an awesome bicycle, and you’re hoping that it’ll give you as much joy with the new wheel as it did with the old one. The guys at the shop say that this new wheel is pretty impressive, though, so you’re waiting with bated breath.
You’ve probably figured out the analogy by now. Gallows are back with album number three; their first with former Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil at the helm, and probably as good a riposte to their critics and doubters as we could have hoped for.
Make no mistake, this is a Gallows record through and through. From the moment ‘Victim Culture’ kicks in after a sinister spoken-word intro, those signature raw rock n’ roll riffs, squalling guitar solos and raucous gang vocals are all present in abundance, and sounding more muscular than ever. Frank Carter left large shoes to fill, but MacNeil proves himself more than capable; a hardcore screamer among the best of them, but able to hold a tune when it’s called for (most notably on the intro of the gloriously anthemic ‘Outsider Art’, which is sure to incite mayhem live).
None of this would matter much if the songs were substandard, but among the eleven tracks on offer here are some of Gallows’ best songs to date. ‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)’ matches anything from ‘Grey Britain’ or ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ in ferocity alone; a stinging indictment of the ‘don’t speak ill of the dead’ mentality. ‘Depraves’ surfs in on a jagged Laurent Barnard riff before exploding into a carpe diem chorus that will have you howling along with conviction. Elsewhere, ‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ and ‘Cult Of Mary’ are hardcore belters shot through with shards of melody, seething and writhing exactly as they should.
Long viewed as plucky underdogs who have survived (and prospered) through no little determination, it seems that the adversity of Carter’s departure has resulted in Gallows returning angrier and hungrier than ever. Mark my words: this bicycle has what it takes to go the distance.
They’ll be playing the Lock-Up Stage at this year’s Reading/Leeds festivals, before embarking on a full UK tour in October.
Words: Alex Gosman