Gallows - Desolation Sounds (Venn Records)

Solid reentry into the punk arena, with some surprises along the way.
Release Date: 
12 Apr 2015 - 11:30pm

Watford punks Gallows return with a fourth slab of angst and indeed anger, and what a treat it turns out to be. Easily the band’s most digestible offering yet (although obviously whether that’s a good thing is very much in the ear of the behearer, if you get my drift), it paradoxically scores big points with this reviewer for the very fact that it’s comfortably the band’s least ostensibly punkoid offering.

Sure, there are still big smears of vitriolic raging going on, as closing track Swan Song proves in sonically devastating fashion, but, freed of the shackles of having to prove the decision to replace original shouter Frank Carter with Canadian Wade MacNeil was a good one, the band spreads it’s wings gloriously here, resulting in the doom laden title being somewhat off beam if truth be told.

That statement comes with qualifications, of course; there’s nothing actively cheerful on offer on DS, but there is a visible progression here, and signs that this band are ready to break forth from the sometimes-limiting hardcore cocoon they’ve been (admittedly happy) to exist in over the years.

Opening track Mystic Death, for instance, has an epic, metallic feel to it in places, Eastern-themed riffage replacing the usual ragged glory churned out by Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard on the chorus, and although the title track is happy to revert to type,  that’s really one of the only places Gallows look like being content to rest on their punk laurels.

Leviathan Rot is a glorious piece of thrashpunk noise, as is the frantic Leather Crown, but Death Valley Blue has a positively grungy feel to it, something I wouldn’t necessarily think is a recommendation but in this instance actually works as MacNeil exorcises his inner Cobain with a convincingly authentic vocal that lifts the song out of the ordinary; however the most surprising track here is the excellent penultimate offering Cease to Exist, in which the band recreate the woozy guitar melodies of Scottish outfit Teenage Fanclub. It’s a seemingly incongruous style to shoehorn into an album that promises desolation in musical form, but it works beautifully. I’m not saying this is perhaps a new direction that the band should be following full time, but it certainly works big time here for one track at least.

Very pleasing overall then, with enough hints of diversification to suggest that not only are Gallows in this for the long haul, but that they’re going to make rather a good fist of it too.