Release Date: 07.10.07
Charging out of Watford with a fervent sneer and guitars to match, fire-breathing quintet Gallows are arguably the first British hardcore band to matter on a global scale - apologies to Lostprophets and Funeral for a Friend - and if the frothing response to their tumultuous Black Flag-on-crack sets at SXSW is any indication (check this), they'll soon be indoctrinated into the U.S. hardcore hierarchy by Rollins himself. Moreover, if they play their cards right they could become the new Sex Pistols - torchbearers for a new generation of British punk rock - but this is a band that plays by its own rules, spiteful and rueful, so there's as much a chance they'll wind up dope fiends on the dole as they will globe-conquering hardcore stalwarts.
Orchestra of Wolves, the group's destined-to-be classic debut, whirls in glass tornadoes, chunks of white hot riffage spouting from every hairpin turn, shards of glass spewing from Carter's bloodied larynx as he leads his troops through their furious paces. "Kill the Rhythm" and "Abandon Ship" are anthems for the disenchanted, Carter calling out to all the broken, battered souls amidst the explosive din of megaton guitars and a pile driving rhythm section. Elsewhere, "Last Fight for the Living Dead" and "Will Someone Shoot that Fucking Snake" are born of the type of feral intensity that makes new labelmates Converge sound like crybabies, while their sandblasting cover of the Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" is ferocious enough to send Keith Morris scurrying towards the premature grave. It's a grand excuse to sit back, listen to the carnage and watch the pretty shapes the blood and guts make as they hit the wall.
Newer songs "Black Heart Queen" and "Sick of Feeling Sick" suggest that Carter & Co. might beat the odds and fight their way out of the hardcore ghetto yet, but like any formidable band of brothers, Carter and his band of miscreants bring to mind Alex and his collection of Droogs from A Clockwork Orange - disparate souls unified in a destructive purpose, or as Burgess so eloquently put it, "a real horror show". It's not always pretty, or in tune, but ultimately, Orchestra of Wolves is a triumph of spirit over glamour, which, at a time when tabloids run the media and blandly manufactured pop runs the radio, makes it not only poignant, but inarguably essential.