For Fans Of
For all its virtues and for all its sentiment, punk and hardcore can be a fickle playing field at times. For a genre that seemingly plays by its own rules and is predicated on destroying boundaries, sometimes it operates within a very fundamental musical framework.
While, the music’s influence and appeal is born out of its attitude, its energy and its social engagement, something as simple (ok, that’s probably an understatement) as a vocalist change can have drastic repercussions.
‘So long Frank Carter and welcome Wade MacNeil’ – that’s the catchcry that underpins the first full-length from Gallows since the key change in personnel. It’s still colonial though right? Trading a British for a Canadian.
It’s not an over-reaction to say there were doubts going in here. It’s only fair to have a sense of scepticism – particularly when the standard set by Gallows has been so high. Last year’s EP was respective, but not brilliant. It seemed muddled and abrupt, treading water where the band would otherwise soar.
However, enter the first official studio album (a self-titled one at that) and any lingering suspicion is quickly replaced. This is solid, imposing and memorable music – there’s intent and purpose.
In some sort of vaguely relatable context, this feels like a punk composite of Every Time I Die, Alexisonfire and the typical and pre-existing Gallows styles. It’s different yes and does take a few spins to get adjusted to, but once accustomed, this self-titled album has a flow to it.
‘Outsider Art’ does sound like something left over from the ‘Old Crows/Young Cardinals’ chapters, but that’s ok. Where the album really picks up is thereafter, with middle to late track ‘Depravers’ a highlight.
Sometimes, the album does try to force too much instead of let things play out naturally, and it does ebb and flow instead of sustain. However, the highs are true highs and the lows simply fleeting. ‘Odessa’ is a little hit and miss, with ‘Nations/Never Enough’ returning to form quickly in a riff/rhythm exchange.
Perhaps that British angst has taken a dint, but the punk tenacity is still in tact. Dissect this release however you want, it’s good enough to warrant a pass mark.
Is Wade MacNeil merely pinch-hitting or the established leadoff man? In many respects, it’s a rhetorical way of putting it, as it’s equally unfair to keep analysing the album solely on the vocal change. There may be divide amongst listeners, but the production is solid and delivery tight. The overall reception is up to personal opinion, but at the very least Gallows sound like a renewed band here.
1. Victim Culture
2. Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)
3. Last June
4. Outsider Art
5. Vapid Adolescent Blues
9. Nations- Never Enough
10. Cult Of Mary
11. Cross Of Lorraine