This summer fans of UK punk were shocked and confused by the sudden departure of Frank Carter from his own creation, Gallows. After numerous rumours and months of waiting, it was announced that former Alexisonfire axeman and vocalist Wade MacNeil would be his replacement. Gallows have been at the forefront of Britain’s punk resurgence for the best part of five years and have produced two critically-acclaimed albums in Orchestra Of Wolves and Grey Britain, but how will they fare without the snarling, chaotic and constantly energetic Frank Carter at the helm?
The new incarnation of Gallows has come out from the controversy swinging, armed with a new EP to prove they mean business. Entitled Death Is Birth, it’s a metaphor for the reinvention and indeed rebirth of Gallows as a band. Despite Frank Carter’s brash vocals being the at the heart of the Watford punks’ sound, Wade has managed to put his own stamp on it and take the band to a more visceral place.
Opener ‘Mondo Chaos’ is an anthem of blatant rage toward society and the current situation the world has found itself in, slightly continuing the theme of Grey Britain. The music is most definitely Gallows on top form, delving deeper toward the hardcore end of punk whilst Wade keeps the big chanting chorus rolling with “Hey! Say fuck the world! I say it’s already fucked!”. Despite Wade not being the lead singer of Alexisonfire, he feels right at home standing at the front of Britain’s angriest Southerners.
Keeping the tempo fast and attitude firmly furious, ‘True Colours’ is a balls-out 36 second blur of thrashing and shouting that is nothing short of an assault on your ear drums. Following up is the vitriolic bile-fuelled ‘Hate Hate Hate’ that moves toward the metallic end of heavy music that Wade is more accustomed to. Keeping the lyrics again simple but ideal for screaming live, Gallows know what they’re doing.
Closing the short but sweet EP is title track ‘Death Is Birth’ that is a culmination of everything you’ve heard in the previous three thrashtastic tracks with more passion, spit, sweat and carnage than ever. Gallows never seem to calm down or try to showcase their acoustic/softer side, it’s nothing but a constant hard-hitting combo of screams and distortion. As the record reaches its climax Wade is left screaming “Death is birth! Let go! Let go!” which is guaranteed to light up a festival next summer.
Ultimately Death Is Birth is a great Gallows record, regardless of the fact Frank Carter is no longer a part. The punk ethos is still going strong and Wade is more than capable of filling Frank’s blood-stained Converse footgear. The songs are built for getting the heart pumping and crowds moving with heavy guitars and screamy, sweary lyrics. Everything you need from a punk band, and everything Gallows always have done, and are continuing to do with ease.