Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Guest Post: Jim Mackney - Gallows, 'Gallows' Review

I'm very pleased to introduce a good friend of mine and a very talented writer to you, a one Mr Jim Mackney, who is debuting as a guest-writer for When We Were Beautiful with a review of Gallows' latest self-titled offering. Here's to many more!

When Gallows released ‘Death Is Birth’ late last year it was a statement of intent from a band written off by some quarters of their fan base and some music journalists who should have known better. Gallows have always been more than the sum of their parts and their parts are making such a wonderful racket on their new eponymously titled third album you’d think that they had concealed a nuclear warhead in every disc. This album is for those people that wrote them off but if not more importantly it sounds like this album is for Gallows. 

The album opens with ‘Victim Culture’, a song that typifies Wade’s performance from the off. A woman’s voice trails off after delivering a solemn series of questions and in comes Wade, screaming at the top of his lungs ‘IN US, WE TRUST’, before launching into a verse so cursive and antagonistic you can almost feel the spittle coming out from the speakers and with that you’re slipping into Gallows’ vice like grip and there’s no way back. 

The latest single ‘Outsider Art’ showcases Wade dictating the momentum of the song with such a galloping pace you can sense the world around you spin that little bit faster, you’re not sure of where you are anymore and the world you’re in is now run by Gallows and they’re showing you the night of your life. The disenchanted and broken world view given over on Grey Britain is still present on this record (if a lot less blatantly) but it is done in such way that that you want to live there, you want this world to envelop your every pore. 

Gallows have presented the world with a snap shot of punk rock history with this release and present is sounds are akin to the snotty British golden age, brutal Eighties hardcore and even some punk’n’roll for good measure. They’ve boiled all these elements down and created a record that is unmistakeably punk rock in 2012. 

Musically on this album Gallows have never sounded tighter. Every guitar line laid down by Steph Carter and Laurent Barnard strikes harder than anything on the previous two albums and perhaps even, every song on this record contains guitar lines as strong and memorable as seen on, ’In The Belly Of A Shark’. The drums are battered and driven in every song to breaking point by Lee Barratt, proving that there are very few better drummers in punk rock right now. 

‘Odessa’ and ‘Depravers’ come in with a shit-kicking fury (one veiled under static, the other brutal from the off) and are arguably the songs that every Gallows fan has wanted them to make. Coming in at a pummelling five minutes and twenty five seconds it contains four guttural verses, two gang vocal choruses that are begging to be performed live and contain drums that drill your head into the nearest wall leaving you wanting the wonderful pain to stop but you know if it did that your life wouldn’t quite be the same again. 

The song that really sets this record apart from any previous Gallows release however is ‘Cross of Lorraine’, the final track on the album. At the point it starts you’ve been listening to the album for twenty nine minutes and eight seconds and you’re done; you’re hanging on the ropes wanting nothing more than for your trainer to throw in the towel but he’s just stood there shaking his head, refusing to let you quit, refusing to see your broken body climb out of the ring, and just as you shout him to do it, he throws your body back into the ring and all you can hear is Wade singing ‘You could never understand what it took for me to be your man’ and the venomous guitar lines return and the nuclear missile drums are dropping around your head once more. During the chorus of ‘GET UP, GET UP, you know it’s true’, you throw a flurry of quick fire punches and as ‘Always waiting for the death of the death of love’ fills your body with a nauseating desire for all this to be over, you realise you can only just about find the strength for one final breath. Wade MacNeil, Steph Carter, Stuart Gili-Ross, Laurent Barnard and Lee Barratt have beaten you to a pulp but you’re still breathing and more importantly they are still breathing. This is Gallows. They’re one of the most important bands around right now and you wrote them off? You deserved the beating.


Jim Mackney writes his own blog, which you can enjoy here.

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Thanks for taking the time to write :)