By Richard Wink
When I was into all that shouty stuff in a major way, and by that I mean when I was a punk, with principles and ideals, I believed that Alexisonfire would crossover and become one of the biggest rock bands in the world. I’m talking Muse, Foo Fighters, Green Day and Kings of Leon big. I thought Dallas Green had a great voice that would carry the band over the airwaves and into people’s hearts. Alexisonfire never broke through the glass ceiling.
They were big in Canada. That’s something I guess.
It therefore surprised me when I heard (1) That Wade MacNeil, one of the screaming guys from Alexisonfire had joined Gallows and (2) That there was life in Gallows post-Frank Carter, one of the more oddly charismatic frontmen in recent years.
Gallows aren’t what they once were, they’ve actually evolved. Tighter, aggressive, more focused. The theatrics have gone (aside from the intense spoken word opening); instead they seem hell-bent in creating these rapid fire death trips for the droogs that sweat in their circle pits. MacNeil isn’t a weak point; he’s the post-modern master of ceremonies and the fresh impetus that he brings to the band gives them a bludgeoning brutality that is more powerful than Frank Carter’s street urchin rat scratchings. I suppose a comparison might be made to how Brian Johnson replaced Bon Scott in AC/DC or how Howard Jones replaced Jesse Leach in Killswitch Engage (only for Leach to return and replace Jones) – in that the band loses nothing from someone else yelling into the mic.
The more imposing tracks on what is a traditionally short punk rock album are ‘Everbody Loves You…’ with its blunt opening refrain “Everybody loves you, when you’re fucking dead”, the impassioned ‘Outsider Art’ (“time is a bastard, routine’s a whore”) and ‘Cult Of Mary’, glistening in feedback and straight ahead riffage.
I like the album because it is immediate, it is how punk used to be – take action first, and then reflect upon it later. Whereas Orchestra of Wolves was a whirlwind of hype that scored the band lucrative contracts, won them awards, and crossed that line of debate known as ‘punk credibility’ (Gallows straddled that line further when duetting with Lethal Bizzle on a cover of The Ruts classic ‘Staring at the Rude Bois’). Second album Grey Britain continued the momentum, but really any music with guitars and passion died around 2010, the band simply fell down the chasm, as superstar DJs and dubstep drops dominated.
Gallows, returning to the chopping board energised and charged, have produced one of the more devilishly surprising releases of 2012.