Gallows – Desolation Sounds (2015) Album Review



Artist Gallows Album Desolation Sounds Release Date: 13 April 2015
Label Venn / Play It Again Sam Records Genre Hardcore | Punk Rock

Gallows is a hardcore band from England that has had their fair share of rebuilding in the last couple of years. Before their self-titled release in 2012, they lost their frontman and before their brand new LP, Desolation Sounds, they lost a founding member who happened to be a guitarist. Not wanting to throw in the towel, they continued on with as much fire and a bit more influences coming to the table than before. I mean, we knew changes were happening when “Chains” was first released, which is a foreboding and dark track with a brutal ending.

Desolation Sounds can be purchased here.

Wade MacNeil cries out on the title track, “there’s hope in desolation, it’s a familiar sound,” which seems to be the band’s way of coping with the departures and marching forward. It is funny to me because sonically that song sounds the most like an older song the band may have written. It might be an homage to what they have done before, but the rest of the album brings in many different influences and sounds. Hell, this albums opens with the grim and twangy riff of “Mystic Death” that could be found on a doom metal record.

Honestly the first two songs did not really catch my full attention. No, it was the third track, “Leviathan Rot,” that made my ears perk up while the hair on my arms stood as straight as a British soldier. The sludge-filled riffs are grimy, full of distortion and feedback to bring about an edge to the tone. The bass bellows along as the song becomes embedded in static.

There are a few more melodic moments on Desolation Sounds than a normal Gallows record. “Bonfire” features a discordant guitar riff tinged in the chorus that resolves itself in a soothing chorus with MacNeil’s entire vocal presence relying on a soft yet raspy melody. “Death Valley Blue” is another song to feature the raspy sung vocals as MacNeil affirms “I’d die for you,” sounding a bit like a post-grunge track. The next track, “Cease To Exist,” rides on that exact same flow.


The band still has their heavy moments, like “93/93” with a pulsating and distorted bass leading the charge. “Leather Crown” is filthy, but has an unexpected melodic change in the middle that keeps it from sounding like a straight-forward hardcore track. Closing track “Swan Song” is ironic to be named that as the band joins in on yelling, “There will be no swan song.” The end of Desolation Sounds is a tight groove with an eerie ending.

The Verdict:

The new Gallows album may not be like old records, it is not as straight forward as the previous ones have been. Desolation Sounds may not connect immediately, but it has it's moments of sheer force and absolutely killer riffs. The melodic side of the album is something to get used to, but at least this band keeps doing things differently.

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