Nihilism, negativity and not an optimistic thought or sound in sight. Welcome to ‘Grey Britain’...
Nihilism, negativity and not an optimistic thought or sound in sight. Welcome to ‘Grey Britain’ – the most anticipated record of 09. It’s here and it’s finally time to see if all the hyperbole lives up to the expectations. ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’ was a lo-fi DIY punk record brimming with raw enthusiasm, urgency and lashings of punk rock from the gutters of Hertfordshire and, in all honesty, ‘Grey Britain’ is pretty much the same, only this time it’s got a decent budget behind it, there’s musical focus, and a concept running through the entire 52 minutes. So no, Gallows haven’t gone soft; they’ve stuck to their roots and delivered a classic punk rock album.
The spit and sawdust may have been replaced with a grandiose approach to their creative vision but ‘Grey Britain’ shows that Gallows are no fluke. This time around there are massive expectations riding on this album and Gallows are not alone this year in making awesome punk albums either – Hexes ’ Levy-inspired brilliance shines throughout their debut ‘White Noise / Black Sound’, and The Ghost Of A Thousand’s devastatingly good second album ‘New Hopes, New Demonstrations’ are equally as exciting as ‘Grey Britain’ even without the hype. Arguably, the more the merrier can join this punk rock whirlwind, when the quality is this good.
‘The Riverbank’ kicks off proceedings like a pounding overture for the damned, water splashes and moody cellos crescendo before punishing big riffs whack you in the face accompanied by Frank Carter’s vitriolic snarl. The tone is set and there is no looking back. ‘London Is The Reason’ follows swiftly on, with a collection of dirty punk rock riffs, agro chants and snotty charm. The anthemic ‘I Dread The Night’ is set to become a massive live favourite; ‘The Great Forgiver’ is urgent punk at its best, while ‘Leeches’ resonates a delicious metal undercurrent. The surprises come on first single ‘The Vulture (Act I & II)’ which sees Carter actually sing over strummed acoustic guitars and violins during the brooding ‘Act I’, and ‘Misery’ – which begins with piano and strings before everything explodes with a wall of feedback, dirty bass, sounds of broken glass and easily Carter’s most aggressive vocal delivery on the record, sending shudders down the spine.
Conceptually, ‘Grey Britain’ announces to the world that everything is fucked and we may as well kill ourselves rather than continue. What Gallows don’t do (and make no apologies for) is offer their solutions to the demise of society. Once upon a time politically charged songs tended to offer artists’ solutions to the problems, a ray of hope to give us hope for the future. Not Gallows, though – nihilism through and through, my friends. Is there a future? Of course there is – Rock Sound can offer a few solutions right now to end things here: Realise that the world doesn’t start and end with a computer, Myspace, Twitter and Xboxes; boycott Nestlé; love your children; embrace nature; recycle; remember you are what you eat; money isn’t the be all and end all… the solutions are all there for the taking. Think about it and make the changes. As you empower yourself to make the world better yourself, enjoy one hell of a snarly riveting slice of punk rock.
Want to be picky? Well, the orchestration could have been bolder and the end of ‘Crucifucks’ kind of meanders and has you reaching for the stop button. However, overall this is a genuine slab of working class anarchy and in the words of Black Eye Riot – no hope, no future, no fucking worries!