I don’t like Gallows. Never have. I have promos and Gahd knows I’ve tried but I never got into them for some reason. I have, however, been a fan of Alexisonfire since Watch Out! (But again still never got into Gallows even when Wade McNeil took over vocal duties). That’s not to say I haven’t tried from time to time, meaning I check in when a new single/album is out. Which leads us to now and “Bonfire Season” which compelled this review of their fourth full-length, Desolation Sounds.
“Bonfire Season”, like Desolation Sounds, is like nothing Gallows has ever put out. It’s this dark, moody number that brings to mind Viva Death and Alexisonfire’s “You Burn First” off Crisis. It’s the most un-Gallows song the band has ever recorded and it’s like a breath of fresh air. And unlike so many lead singles that aren’t necessarily indicative of the rest of the album, Desolation Sounds tends to stay on point tonally throughout even when they go for the jugular on tracks like the riff chug-a-thon “Leviathan Rot” or “Leather Crown” which adds synths to the heavy.
But fear not loyal Gallows followers! Your favorite band is still there, just evolved some is all. In addition to the two aforementioned pummelers, Desolation Sounds is still filled with its fair amount of raucous Gallows fun. Take opener “Mystic Death” led by Laurent Barnard’s guitar shrieks and and Lee Barratt’s staccato attacks. Or the title track with McNeil expanding his vocal range adapting an almost sexy swoon at times. Then there’s “93/93” which could be on a new Alexisonfire album if AOF decided to go straight-up metal followed by the Stuart Gili-Ross bass filled romp “Death Valley Blues” with a stellar chorus by McNeil.
Elsewhere, “Chains” is a haunting track with an explosive conclusion while “Cease To Exist” is easily a companion track to “Desolation Sounds” and sonically one of the most dense tracks Gallows have ever put their stamp of approval on. If you were a fan of Gallows before, then Desolation Sounds is essential to your collection. However, if you’re like me and never gave Gallows a chance, Desolation Sounds is the album to take the leap on.