After landing a million-pound record deal with Warner Bros., a lot of the punks were expecting Gallows' follow-up to Orchestra of Wolves to go in a "poppier" direction so it would sell well. Guess what? They were wrong, very wrong. Gallows' latest offering, Grey Britain shows the band more hateful, aggressive, and powerful than ever. The benefit of a higher-budget studio has allowed the band to add a new layer of depth to their sound and their sophomore album anything but a slump.
When writing Grey Britain, the band members had previously said that they wanted to make "the heaviest record they've ever heard," and while I'm not sure what's in their record collections, but as far as hardcore goes, this record is pretty goddamn heavy. The guitars are a lot more down-tuned and come off sounding a lot heavier than on their debut album. The overall sound of this record could be described as Orchestra of Wolves with better production, but it's the little differences between the two albums that set them apart from one another. Let's take the intro track, "The Riverbank," for example. This little intro track sets the vibe for the whole album with it's dark, menacing tone. About half-way through the song comes Frank Carter's cries of...
Grey Britain is burning down / We'll be buried alive, before we drown / The queen is dead, so is the crown / The shallow grave, fit for the ground.
The lyrics pretty much speak for themselves, as most of them are directed towards the band's views on how they feel Great Britain is steadily declining, only Gallows' lyrics seem a lot more spiteful and violent than others.
The whole theme behind Grey Britain seems to be driven by hatred, take a listen to "London is the Reason" for an example. This track shows Carter going on this furious tirade:
We are the rats and we run this town / We are the black plague bearing down / We have no fear / We have no pity / We hate you / We hate this city!
The use of gang vocals for the final line also is a nice touch with this song along with a few others, especially the ending to "I Dread The Night" and the middle section of "Dead Voices." One thing you might notice with Carter's voice is that it's gotten a lot more, gruff and deeper. He made some comments on how his old vocal style was damaging his throat, so this might be an explanation for this new style. Luckily, his new singing style blends in nicely with the darker vibe that this album has. He also uses clean singing in the two part track, "The Vulture," the first part being acoustic and sounding very different than what most are expecting. However, the disturbing lyrics sung by Carter do fit the context of the album.
Cursed are the places you have been / You lead us there and forced us in / Take the girls / To become the daughters / If the horses wont drink / drown them in the water
Then comes the second part which transitions back into the dark-hardcore sound that the rest of Grey Britain maintains.
Not only is Grey Britain darker, it's a lot more....frightening and chaotic, most of these are because the new use of some of the special effects. The aforementioned opening track, "The Riverbank" uses the haunting orchestration before Carter's vocals erupt through your speakers. There's also the air raid siren which begins "The Riverbed," the keyboards in the background of the second part of "The Vulture" and the extremely haunting intro of "Misery," not to mention the end of the song which features the sound a pig being slaughtered (not for the weak of heart). The main section of "Misery" also has some of Gallows' most simple, yet emotional lyrics.
Misery, is my only friend / Shes a cold fucking slut / But she is not the end / Misery fucking loves me / But I love her more / She is the last light / The dark night / Noose round my neck / The hole in the floor.
Carter also delivers these lyrics in one of his most emotional and harshest performances yet. The closing track, "Crucifucks" contains a piano-laden outro to end the album on a very somber and desolate note, it's pretty much a perfect way to end this album.
As musicians, the band hasn't exactly changed much from Orchestra of Wolves, with the exception of Carter's new vocal delivery. The rhythm section is still rock solid with guitarists Stephen Carter and Laurent "Lags" Barnard delivering the usual punk riffs along with some leads (see "Leeches" for a good one). Needless to say, the duo may not be topping any "greatest guitarists" list but they are damn good at doing their job of building atmosphere when needed as their guitar-lines are what really makes some of these songs great. Bassist Stuart Gili-Ross and drummer Lee Barrat also make great contributions to this album. Ross' shining moment being on "Misery" and Barrat's being on "Graves."
On paper, Grey Britain looks very similar to Orchestra of Wolves but in reality, it's a completely different animal, a meaner an much more ferocious animal. This is Gallows responding to everyone who thought they would go soft on this album, and proving them wrong. Gallows have shown that they don't give a damn about what's expected of them and have made the album that they wanted to make. It's unknown how long Gallows will stay around, but if this ends up being their final album, then at least they will go out in a blaze of glory.
8.7 / 10
The word fucking appears on Orchestra of Wolves forty-nine times. Let me break it down for you: theres thirty-nine fuckings on the full-length and ten on the two bonus tracks ...
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