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Desolation Sounds is Gallows' album number four. Titled after an expanse of water in frontman Wade MacNeil’s native Canada, it features ten songs, runs for 36 minutes and might just be the most bleakly beautiful, weighty and affecting collection of music you will hear this year.
The album represents a new chapter in Gallows career as they move towards their tenth anniversary. Produced by Steve Sears at Titan Studios, Watford, it’s a body of work which builds upon the aggression and passion of the band’s acclaimed catalogue while opening up new horizons for the quartet. It is, says Gallows founding member Laurent ‘Lags’ Barnard, “the record I've dreamt about making.”
This bloody-minded focus has served Gallows well from day one. Hailed as "the best British punk band since The Clash" upon their emergence from the fecund Hertfordshire hardcore scene, the band hammered an adrenaline spike into the body of the British music industry with the release of 2006’s feral Orchestra of Wolves and 2009’s savage, unflinching state-of-the-nation address Grey Britain, before the departure of original vocalist Frank Carter offered an opportunity to re-assess the chaos wreaked. Re-affirming their commitment to the punk rock cause, the band re-emerged in 2012 with a new vocalist, former Alexisonfire man MacNeil, a new self-titled album, a new label (their own Venn Records) and a new-found sense of self-determination and purpose. Desolation Sounds represents the thrilling next stage of this re-birth.
The result is a collection of songs which expand upon the visceral charge of the uncompromising Gallows sound while incorporating textures, tones and shading which demand a re-definition of the notion of ‘heavy’ music. From the chilling widescreen desolation of the cinematic Cease To Exist (“If I told you this was killing me, would you stop?”) to the oppressive, challenging grind of summer 2014 single, Chains (“a song about internal struggle, examining the destructive impulses within us all” explains lyricist MacNeil) through to the fierce "talking ‘bout my re-generation" catharsis of Bonfire Season, it’s an album which transcends expectations and showcases a unit operating at the peak of their creative powers. Bound within there is Thelemic philosophy (93 93), sludge-encased nihilism (Leviathan Rot), snarling punk rock confrontation (Leather Crown), and even a bruised, aching us-against-the-world love song (Death Valley Blue), culminating in the intense, disquieting Swan Song, something of a mission statement for a collective which has always sought to break new ground.