Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Album Review: Grey Britain - Gallows

If Gordon Brown’s nightmares have a soundtrack, then this is it.

Grey Britain is not an album for the optimistic. In fact, it should probably come with a health warning.

If there is one word to sum up this record, it’s ‘brutal’. Lead singer, Frank Carter doesn’t mess around with his lyrics, perfectly demonstrated by the particularly cheery line ‘So kill yourself, cos there ain’t nothing else, go on and fucking kill yourself!’ (Death Voices).

Sounding a lot more polished than debut release Orchestra of Wolves, the use of air-raid sirens only contribute to the sense of impending doom and gloom and I can’t help but feel this punk rock band are subtly hinting that World War Three is on the horizon.

The first track, The Riverbank, could easily be taken from the opening credits of a horror movie. Ominous violins and crows cawing build up suspense until the guitars and drums come crashing in like Jack Nicolson through a bathroom door.

What comes next may sound nostalgic to all those Gallows fans, easing them in before gradually breaking their spirit with some of the bleakest lyrics ever put to paper.

A sombre piano interlude provides a welcome moment of calm, leading nicely into The Vulture Act I, Gallows first ever acoustic track. The fact that Frank Crater can do something other than screaming and growling comes as a pleasant surprise but, let’s put it this way, Charlotte Church has got nothing to worry about in terms of competition.

Gallows are a band that like to shock and if you have ever seen them live, you will know that they are actually a bunch of mummy’s boys at heart. Wouldn’t think it of a band that features the sound of a pig being slaughtered on their album would you?

An appearance from Biffy Clyro frontman Simon Neil in Graves serves as a soothing break from the somewhat exhausting The Great Forgiver, arguably the heaviest track on the album, before storming straight into the merciless Queensbury Rules.

Grey Britain is a powerful album and proves to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, ranging from scary to depressing and back again, with the creepy xylophone music at the end creating an unavoidable sense of despair. Unlike most ‘albums with a message’, Grey Britain won’t leave you with even a glimmer of hope as when Carter barks the last few lines of final track Crucifucks - ‘Great Britain is fucking dead, so cut our throats and our lives, lets fucking start again’ – it’s enough to leave even the sprightliest of kids’ TV presenter reaching for the Prozac.

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