[21st December 2011]
An instant with the new Gallows EP, Death is Birth is like an instant of being penetrated by a fiery fist. The band have a new singer, and a new perspective, that isn’t just resigned to the gutters of London, but this EP remains an astoundingly furious demonstration of their punk roots.
It’s not without justification that Gallows fans, on the departure of the distinctive vocals and outlook of Frank Carter and the consequent recruitment of Alexisonfire’s guitarist and lyricist, Wade MacNeil, were feeling slightly bereft. Carter is an undoubtedly passionate performer, a singer whose fury spits with every word he growls, and, whilst with Gallows, he funnelled the grime and the piss of London through to a receptive global community. MacNeil, on the other hand, has been with Alexisonfire for years, a band, who although occasionally falling within the punk sphere, is far removed from these wayward British cast-offs.
However, any doubts that may have existed prior to the release of Death Is Birth have quickly dissipated as the shit-storm of “Mondo Chaos” kicks in. It’s important to say firstly that this is not the same band that Frank Carter left; whereas Carter-led-Gallows levelled their sandblasted cancer at their locality, shown in tracks like “London Is The Reason” and “Queensberry Rules,” the MacNeil fronted troupe sets fire to the world, shown immediately in the repeated refrain ‘Hey, you say fuck the world…I say it’s already fucked’ on “Mondo Chaos.” The distinctive guitar-bass-drum pound retains the same sound however, and the repetitive riffs come thick and fast, but lose a lot of the diversity found on Grey Britain. This isn’t to its detriment though, because what Gallows have achieved here is a dangerous and sudden statement of intent with their new frontman that sticks to their punk/hardcore clout rather than walking any other diverse climes.
Additionally, for those of you who worried that the inclusion of a member of a Canadian post-hardcore/metalcore band into Gallows would soften the punk crust, Death Is Birth limbers up with the most frenzied and direct music they’ve ever produced. MacNeil’s voice is sandpaper and whiskey, and although not as distinctive as Carter’s, is more than capable of searing through every song on this EP. The capability of MacNeil to convince on the track “Death Is Birth” is astounding, as he fits over Steph Carter’s insistent and piss-soaked riffs, making it sound as if this incarnation of Gallows had always existed.
Bottom Line: This is a short and sweet shot to the head, and does exactly what Gallows have needed to do in presenting their newest bandmate. Instead of playing the change-of-direction card, these British punks have stuck to what they know and have just slightly adjusted their perspective. Essentially, however, the song remains the same, and we’re oh so fucking glad for it.