The Achilles heel of many contemporary hardcore bands is that they fall too easily to monotony; building short, to-the-point songs is often the only way to hold a listener's attention through its entirety. With their latest effort Desolation Sounds, Gallows have crafted a piece that completely circumvents this issue by balancing melody and grit perfectly, engaging the listener and demanding their mental investment from start to finish.
There is a substantial shift in tone from their 2012 self-titled LP, on which frontman and former Alexisonfire guitarist Wade MacNeil made his debut with the band. The new material features a much more sinister sound, employing metalcore dissonance and ambience alongside brooding minor-key melodies and heavily distorted guitars to evoke the album's namesake.
The songs go back and forth between feral intensity and eerily beautiful moments: "Leviathan Rot" and "Chains" are two of the heavier tracks, and they crescendo until the pressurized rage explodes into crushing breakdowns riddled with screeching feedback. "Cease To Exist," meanwhile, demonstrates the band's affinity for melody, incorporating haunting guitar leads and showcasing MacNeil's vocal ability. MacNeil remains versatile throughout the record, but here it's the most apparent, seamlessly transitioning from his raspy singing voice to his throaty half-scream.
With this album, Gallows have fine-tuned their previously established sound, creating a cohesive and powerful set of songs. (Venn)