This is how Gallows feels. Press play on track 1 and start running - not for medals or glory, not for health, not even for fun. Run because you have to run. Even if you physically can’t, even if you’re standing still, even if you’re lying on your back, head spinning from drink. As an ice-cold female voice announces opener ‘Victim Culture’, as Wade MacNeil fills his lungs and roars ”In us! We trust!” your imagination will do the work, in your head your feet are pounding the concrete and you are running. This is how Gallows feels.
Many wrote Gallows off when Frank Carter stepped out the door. Logically we knew there was more to them than one man, but for most Carter’s scrawny, bloodied body convulsing as he screamed into the faces of the front row was the definitive image of the band, his estuary yelp (“when yoor wipin’ my cum off ya fackin’ face”) the perfect fronting for their nihilistic rock n’roll. Stripped of their frontman, Gallows are surely just another bunch of bratty noise-merchants, right? Wrong. SO wrong. Forget Frank Carter - he’s got his new band, and maybe they’ll be the British QOTSA after all. Good luck to them. But really, fuck him, we don’t need him. We’ve still got Gallows, and you know what? They’re better now.
Gallows (the album) is the one we’ve been waiting for Gallows (the band) to make since their earliest shows. It’s the best representation yet of the sheer force of the band live, a perfect half hour snapshot of the energy and aggression they’ve never properly captured on tape. MacNeill is a very different presence to Carter, his voice is richer and more controlled, and it’s tied to a nearly faultless run of songs that vapourise the history of punk rock -its buzzsaw NYC origins, its snotty British golden age, Eighties hardcore and Nineties punk'n’roll - and reassembles it as something that is utterly 2012 and completely Gallows.
This is how Gallows feels. At ‘Outsider Art’ you feel the ground slope, you’re running downhill. You’re nearly flying, jumping over bins and walls, wanting someone to try and stop you because right now you’re invincible and you will fucking have them. ‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ is naked aggression and speed. There’s hooks here, proper, catchy pop hooks, as ‘Austere’ pushes you into overdrive, out of control, arms flailing, it’s a violent tumble to the street, a graze oozing blood down your leg, but it absolutely won’t let you stop. Faster, and harder. Nothing matters but the speed and the glorious fucking noise. This is how Gallows feels. Relentless, unstoppable.
‘Depravers’ and ‘Odessa’ have the lot- big gang-chorus shouting, guitars that are as much a rhythm track as the drums and drums like a drill through your head. In the former there’s also one walloper of a sing-a-long chorus. You’re at your peak now, laying on a burst of speed. But things are changing.
This is how Gallows feels. At the end of the record you’re running because you daren’t stop, you’re running for your life and it’s getting harder. ‘Cult Of Mary’ is all burning muscles and bursting lungs, and still you can’t slow down. You’re powering uphill and something is chasing you, a creeping paranoia that won’t let you pause for a second, chanting along with the innocent child’s voice that appears as the song drives itself to a genuinely sinister climax. You’re fading now, but the music is unrelenting and there’s one last dash to go. ‘Cross of Lorraine’ comes with a crushing, irresistible momentum that resolves into feedback and white static. It’s audio nausea that’s echoed in your stomach as muscles turn to water, lungs stuffed with sugar you collapse to the street, panting, sweating, trying not to vomit, legs trembling like Bambi in the snow. Silence rings in your ears- It’s over. Shaking you reach out and hit ‘play’ on track 1, This is how Gallows feels. Pulling yourself to your feet you start to run again.
9Marc Burrows's Score