Have you ever been punched below the belt? Or walk nose-first into a door frame when it’s pitch black? That kind of shooting, immediate pain is the kind that hits you in the gut when the onslaught that is Gallows’ Death Is Birth EP begins.
By now, everyone knows that Frank Carter is no longer with Gallows and that former Alexisonfire guitarist/vocalist Wade MacNeil has replaced him, as predicted by our very own Jack Appleby. This won’t be a record that will immediately strike fans of both bands as the instrumentation differs from any past Gallows release and MacNeil sounds like he never has before. But if you stick around and give Death Is Birth enough time to seep into your conscious, you will find yourself with an incredibly strong, albeit too short, release.
The one thing that has remained intact with Gallows is its refusal to conform to norms or play it safe. On the opener “Mondo Chaos,” we are treated with the repeated chorus consisting of “You say fuck the world? I say it’s already fucked,” accompanied with heavily distorted, nearly to the point of sludge-like, guitar riffs provided by Laurent Barnard and Steph Carter, giving the track a sound more reminiscent of Every Time I Die than anything in the Gallows back catalog. With MacNeil’s husky screams sounding completely different than his former style of shouting, it reestablishes Gallows as a formidable hardcore band, despite losing its iconic frontman.
Following the abrasive, yet catchy, opener is the first song that was released prior to the EP, “True Colours.” This will be a polarizing track for many. With the indecipherable lyrics and extremely heavy riffs, some fans who appreciated the often clean tones utilized at points might be left scratching their heads. As this track shows, the band is much faster with its new leader, leaving the weak behind. If one thing is made clear by the blistering, 36-second track, it is that this band has started fresh and if you don’t like it, well, they couldn’t care less. The following track, “Hate! Hate! Hate!” features some incredibly solid drumming from Lee Barratt, driving the track at breakneck speeds, all leading to MacNeil’s explosive finish.
With the closing title track, Gallows will surely please fans of the band. While MacNeil sounds extremely different when compared to Carter, it isn’t hard to imagine the former singer performing this song, which will surely please crowds. Likewise, it will also please many hardcore purists who wanted to see the band attempt something heavier. The chorus also retains a heavy catchiness that will rival past tracks like “London is the Reason” and “Orchestra of Wolves.”
While Gallows’ new frontman might not have the persona that Carter once utilized to lead the band, he is far from a slouch and may even be preferable for some fans with his heavier, gruffer vocals. And to see the band’s stylistic shift to a pure, brutally relentless force is a thing of beauty.