Album Review: Gallows – Desolation Sounds


Unbelievably Gallows are coming up to their 10th year in existence. Across that timespan they have undergone major label success, headline-making line up changes, heaps of unbridled pressure and produced 3 albums of shape shifting but vital punk rock. With the difficult first album with vocalist Wade McNeil at the helm out of the way, ‘Desolation Sounds’ is the first chance the band have had in a long time to play by their own rules once again with a clean slate and begin the next chapter in one of the UK’s most consistently exciting exports.

The scrappy garage rock carnage and cockiness of earlier releases is more than a distant memory as ‘Desolation Sounds’’ immediately continues down the route of tightly wound but densely layered songwriting that ‘12’s self titled effort paved the way for. ‘Mystic Death’ fizzles into life with a shake of a tambourine and old school Black Sabbath leaning swells, while the title track slithers into view with wavy unsettling melody. Wade McNeil has the ability to go from jaded to ravenous with the flick of a switch and puts in an unstable performance while the rest of the band deliver some of the darkest and tightest musical performances of their careers. Where ‘Leviathan Rot’ is unhinged and sinister, in comparison ‘Death Valley Blue’ sways with dusty undertones and crooked melody. This is Gallows edging into areas they have never attempted and succeeding in taking their influences and creating something that is whole heartedly their own.

The album as a whole flows at such a hauntingly compelling pace with everything calculated to knife-edge precision that it demands undivided attention at every corner. Expanding their sound with different paces and levels of intensity has managed to highlight the potential that Gallows have always had hidden within them even this far into their career. ‘Chains’ builds with tenderly bleak negativity while ‘Bonfire Season’ loosely coils with heated tension before ‘Leather Crown’ pummels everything back into life in hysterically gruff fashion. ‘Cease To Exist’ changes things up yet again as it romantically toys with downtrodden prettiness before ‘Swan Song’ sees things across the line with a poignantly dirty battering.

‘Desolation Sounds’ is the album Gallows have always been threatening to make. Just as the dust started to settle around them in terms of pressures and personnel, they conjure up a sweltering, filthy beast that thrashes and mauls as much as it seduces and slithers. Good things are said to come those who wait and Gallows have been as patient as any and their redemption seems to be finally at hand. If they keep churning out records of this caliber, the Watford punks will be flying high in the music game for another 10 years and beyond.

4.5/5

‘Desolation Sounds’ by Gallows is out now on Venn Records and Play It Again Sam.

Gallows links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)

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