Album: Desolation Sounds
Release Date: 10/4/15
Label: Venn Records/Play It Again Sam Records
There’s been a lot of talk and anticipation around Watford punk outfit Gallows new album ‘Desolation Sounds’ ever since the release of single ‘Chains’ last year. The first taste of new music since the stonking’ self titled record back in 2012, took a drastic turn with sludgy riffs and ethereal gothic elements left many fans writing off the 4 piece before the album had even dropped. After time away in different projects, Lags wrote and recorded an album with Krokodil, and most of the guys abstaining from hardcore and punk releases for a year or so prior to writing Desolation Sounds, anything could’ve come from the writing sessions. So, the time has come, lets hit play and go into this open minded.
‘Mystic Death’ opens with a Slayer style intro from the late 80s/90s, think Seasons In The Abyss, followed on by the usual bread and butter chord changes synonymous with Gallows. Wade sounds as aggressive and determined as ever as he bellows, “Even bad dreams are too good for you”. The title track has a jangly guitar and a dirty rock n roll vibe to it with Wade gently laying his vocals through the verses. We can just imagine the video being shot in the desert with the band driving with the top down whilst battered and bruised. The song just oozes swagger and is quite the change for a band who are legendary for being full force and deafeningly loud.
Oh look another turn! ‘Leviathan Rot’ doesn’t fuck about and hits you like a punch to the back of the head. Feedback, distorted vocals, low rumbling bass and battering drums, one of Gallows heaviest tracks to date. In 3 songs we’ve had several different genres and ingredients thrown into this giant mixing pot that keeps us on our toes. We’ve already glossed over ‘Chains’ so lets move onto another previously released track, ‘Bonfire Season’. A clean yet bass heavy riff menacingly arrives to lead into a slow building verse and gravel throated vocals. An apocalyptic aura surrounding this track. If you’ve seen the last couple Gallows videos then you can see that a change in artistic direction is certainly in sights. There’s no messing about when it comes to ‘Leather Crown’, the simplicity of it makes for a powerful performance and one of the best songs the band has ever penned. It’s relentless delivery doesn’t let up until it’s over and is definitely one for the live environment. Lee Barrett on drums gives one of his best performances on this album and Leather Crown showcases what an underrated sticksman he really is.
’93/93′ acts as a breathing point as the only real hook to it is the repetitive scream of “Love is the law”, a fairly forgettable track. However in comes the filthy and down right sexy ‘Death Valley Blue’. If Queens of the Stone age and Nirvana had a baby this song would be the outcome. Mid tempo, rock style vocals and melodies that help make the chorus the most memorable in the Gallows arsenal. With the stubbornness of the hardcore scene at the moment we wouldn’t be surprised if many fans disregarded this song, “This doesn’t sound like Gallows!, they’ve sold out! bring back Frank!”. Thats the whole fucking point. They’re moving on doing what feels natural to them, move on with them or get out. ‘Cease to Exist’ is probably the closest we’re gunna get to a ballad from the quartet, soft and subtle guitar work over percussive drums relax you and almost drift you off into sleep before a melody lead solo takes over to help close out. ‘Swan Song’ finishes us off with a full speed ahead urgency and a pit inviting riff to bring back the heavy one final time. Ambient acoustics drift the record into its final moments, oh and be careful when listening to this full blast with headphones in, a dreadful and excruciating noise comes from outta nowhere just to scare the shit out of you.
There was talk of change and there is a lot thats new to the Gallows style on ‘Desolation Sounds’ that was needed for them to remain relevant to our scene. The punk attitude is there even more so now as they’ve done exactly what they want, they could’ve easily pieced together another record full of ragers but striving for something more was always going to be on the Gallows agenda. Love it or hate it this is the most flowing and cohesive piece of work the band has ever put together.