Gallows - Grey Britain
Reprise Records
13 songs (52:06)
Release year: 2009
Reprise Records
Reviewed by Phil
Album of the month

The Gallows made quite a splash in the U.S. as part of this summer’s Vans Warped Tour. Music sites reported the band frequently jumped off stage and performed in the middle of circle pits. Front man Frank Carter also called out other Warped Tour bands on stage on a daily basis. Evidently, the Gallows aren’t fond of BrokeNCYDE and Jeffree Star. But really, who is?

First of all, I need to ask how this band ended up on a major label? Sure, their first album was the tightest and truest punk album recorded in a decade. But major labels don’t sign bands because they’re good. Nowadays, big-time labels sign bands because they see a profit. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t see the dollar signs every time I listen to the Gallows’ new album, Grey Britain.

Simply stated, Grey Britain is one of the most violent, nihilistic albums I’ve heard in a long time. Musically, the band plays a brand of hardcore punk that I thought was long dead. The sharp, caustic songwriting brings the Bad Brains and the catchiest moments of Black Flag to mind. Vocally, Frank Carter is something special. His nasty screams meld with the aggressive music perfectly, but they’re still clear enough to be understood. Lyrically, Grey Britain appears to be a true-to-life concept album about dark living in modern England. The lyrics read like vicious, hateful poetry. As you read/listen, you’re struck again and again by powerful images of death and desperation. Two of my favorite examples are below.

Lyrics from London Is the Reason: 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. Every mistake you have ever made, the bodies you thought would never need graves. They pave the gutters of London town, until the streets become a feeding ground.

Lyrics from The Great Forgiver: When I died I walked into the light, but what I saw I didn't like. Well I went to heaven but I didn't go in. They don't condemn the sinners they condemn the sin. Heaven is full of fucking scum, if they live like pigs they will die like one. There will never be enough forgiveness.

That’s some intense shit. It’s been years since a band’s lyrics have caught my attention like this. I found myself reading the lyrics again and again as I listened to the album.

Honestly, I have no real interest in picking apart Grey Britain song by song because the album is best heard from start to finish. This isn’t a bunch of songs quickly thrown together and released. It is obvious Grey Britain was created as a single piece of music. The song order is spot-on perfect, and the orchestral intro tracks are well thought out. This cohesive approach to creating the album gives it a flow that can make it difficult to stop listening.

Even though I really enjoyed the Gallows' first album, I was still surprised by the maturity and creativity the band displays on Grey Britain. If you’re the least bit interested in this type of music, and you’ve got 52 minutes to blow, I recommend you give this album a listen. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Killing Songs :
The Whole Album
Phil quoted 92 / 100
Goat quoted 80 / 100
Thomas quoted 70 / 100
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