Who writes press releases? C'mon, own up, somebody must think them up. Unless of course they're produced using a random phrase generator, which would make a lot more sense if this were to be the case. It is unfortunate that the PR's attempt to sell a band can easily backfire and cause the band to come across as pretentious and a million sonic miles away from the adjectives printed on the page. Gallow's press release states the following; 'Bored of listening to haircuts and no-clue dorks harp on about shit flash in the pan bands...' If that sentence isn't ridiculous enough then try this piece of literal fodder, '...focused on dragging punk rock out of the grasp of wannabe male models and making live shows an event where the crowd feel threatened for their personal safety... Live, the band leave everything destroyed in their wake...." And so on zzzz. Of course all of this is just media bullshit, but oddly enough the band have concocted their own auto-biography which is printed on the actual CD packaging. Apart from it being a story of hardship and woe, it states, after a fight broke out at one of their shows, "thanks to the strength in numbers the situation was quickly defused and the rest of the evening was spent cleaning the blood from the floor and making sure the younger half of the crowd made it home safely." Strange words from a band who "leave everything destroyed in their wake."
I had read the above items before spinning the disc, and all of a sudden I was finding I couldn't take 'Gallows' seriously. In my hands I had the debut album of a hardcore punk band with the "explicit intention of fucking some serious shit up," a band who are considered 'the undergrounds best kept, and most volatile, rock n roll secret," yet for all their chaos they want to make sure everything's tidied up and all the kids are sent home at the end of the show. I maybe taking things out of context, and the band will undoubtedly correct me on this issue, but this was the conclusion I reached with the material I was given. (First impressions etc...)
Although the Press Release tried it's upmost to ruin the music, it thankfully failed because 'Orchestra of Wolves' is an energy filled, raw, well written slab of hardcore. The first thing to notice is the dressed down production. It could very well be four guys playing in a room somewhere, but it's slick around the edges keeping it punkily palatable without sounding contrived. There are some seriously good cuts on this disc. 'Abandon Ship' is an immediate head nodder with its infectious groove and wonderful break at the 2:25 mark. 'Come friendly bombs' is another solid track with vocalist Frank Carter toning down the shouting to something slightly more melodic. It works a treat and gives the listener an early insight into the dynamics this album has to offer.
'Rolling with the punches' has quite a clever keyboard break over the thrashing guitars. It's out of place certainly, but somehow they go together. I've heard the song several times now and I still can't figure out why I like it. The title track is worthy of it's album carrying mantle, but songs such as 'Stay Cold' and 'I promise this won't hurt' miss the mark slightly for the simple reason that they're just too similar to the previous 25 minutes on the disc. Had they come earlier in the track listing I probably would have warmed to them a little more.
'Orchestra of Wolves' is a great listen. It's a hardcore album certainly, but they've managed to push the boundaries of what the genre is all about. Solos, tempo changes, all the simple tricks are here to make for an entertaining listen. It's a far cry from the likes of Hatebreed, Most Precious Blood and Knuckledust, but of all the Hardcore albums I've listened to over the past couple of years I find this Gallow's debut the most honest and probably the most dynamic of them all. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts? More like beware of CDs bearing press releases. Excellent. Check them out at www.myspace.com/burnthegallows (I do think 'burn the gallows' is a better name than just 'gallows' but hey! That's just me)