Gallows - Grey Britain

This album perfectly blends brutal hardcore elements with precise melody and flashes of orchestral genius. It's everything it was built up to be.

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Released 5 May 2009 | Warner Bros | By Dom Smith | Rating: 4
Gallows - Grey Britain

So, the pressure is on. This record is the band's first million-pound deal on Warner Bros, and before it was released even Gallows themselves, as 'hard' as they may be, were probably praying for it to do well. It's a bloody good job that it's a damn near perfect mix of heavy-as-hell hardcore punk but with enough sensibilities for it to resonate with the group's younger fans.

The haunting and visceral opener 'The Riverbank' leads into the furious 'London Is The Reason' which is a full-throttle attack that effectively says 'sod the banks and they way they've handled our cash'. Similarly 'Leeches', with its clever guitars and blast-beat drums deals, with strong religious ideas, specifically its stronghold over contemporary society. It's also interesting to note that this is a particularly accessible track with some incredibly bouncy riffage a la Rage Against The Machine. 'Black Eyes' is similarly catchy and packs the odd Slipknot-styled riff in with Frank Carter's raucous vocals, which are accompanied by the ever-welcome punk backing chant.

The fuming 'I Dread The Night' surpasses the vitriol and impact of Amen's best work, yet it could still be a candidate for the group's next single. 'Death Voices' blends uplifting guitar lines smash against moody and dark lyrics and well thought out breaks in pace for one of the album's most prominent and interesting offerings. Equally as astounding in its impact is current single 'The Vultures (Acts I And II)' which sees excellent acoustic workings betraying Carter's singing voice to be pretty darn good. This is supported by beautiful orchestral backing for around two minutes, allowing time for you to settle into a false sense of security before the second act. Biting guitars and vicious drums attack the senses and metaphorically back you into a wall to pull your ears from left to right as you scream and feel the anger that's put across within the final four minutes.

'The Riverbed' will bulldoze over you, forcing you to take notice of the lyrics as an alarm sounds and leads into a blistering Slayer-esque chorus blending progressive rhythm and musicianship that really puts bands like Enter Shikari to shame. 'The Great Forgiver' is a track that you will immediately associate with the first album, it's got all the rich textures and melody that made you fall in love with this band in the first place, while the rest of the album breaks new ground with a new desire to evolve and inspire change that is un-matched by most contemporary hardcore acts.

'Graves' combines some epic drumming with brilliant guitars and more gang-style vocals prior to a progressive breakdown Thrice-style, featuring a guest appearance from Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil who brings a softer more human element into the angst-ridden mix. It should also help Gallows attract a wider fanbase who will definitely latch on to this. 'Queensberry Rules' is a completely different beast; a hard-hitting and angry punk powerhouse criticising the state of our country. 'Misery' is the anti-anthem and is surely going to be one of the favourites for many on here. Despite depressing lyrics - "I want to kill myself just for relief" - the defiant tone and near-perfect delivery will snare most ears. To end on a blinding and typically furious note 'Crucifucks' is at times anthemic and when the orchestra kicks in for the final moments it's actually heart-wrenching. This album perfectly blends brutal hardcore elements with precise melody and flashes of orchestral genius. It's everything it was built up to be.