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Gallows - The Boileroom, Guildford - August 21 2013 (Live Review)

Friday, 23 August 2013 Written by Owen Sheppard

When Gallows, the UK’s best punk band for a decade, come to town, you’d better be ready. Joining Palm Reader, a hugely promising new metalcore act, at the Boileroom in sleepy Guildford for a Reading and Leeds warm-up show, their arrival results in something of a heavy music lovers’ summit.

Wrinkled skinheads mingle with teens bearing more tattoos than they have  GCSEs, while a bloke in a Napalm Death t-shirt elbows his way to the bar and orders half a dozen whiskies.

Palm Reader are a relatively new band and in under two years, have shot to considerable notoriety in metal circles. Hailing from the neighbouring town of Woking, frontman Josh Mckeown is a familiar face to some in attendance, who perhaps fondly remember him from his former band, Open The Skies.

They waste no time, clambering on and over the barrier at regular intervals and snarling through each verse with ferocious intent, instantly raising the bar for the rest of the night. It’s fast, heavy and impressively precise.

Mics are shoved in faces and fists fly in the pit. In a venue this cramped, Noble Host doesn’t quite have its intended anthemic effect, but the more straight up hardcore moments, Seeing and Believing and Spineless, are riveting. Rarely do support artists leave you hungry for more in quite this fashion.

After humbly sound checking their own gear, Gallows take to the stage and guitarist Lags Barnard dives into the mess of sweaty bodies before even a single chord is played. Wade MacNeil and Co launch straight in to Abandon Ship and the scene is one of pandemonium. There are bodies on top of bodies and the spectacle is just as it should be – good old barbaric punk fun.

At this point in their career, Gallows feel more like hardcore’s elder statesmen. Wade, Lags, Stu Gili-Ross and Lee Barratt valiantly still carry a cocky stubbornness, but the years of masochistic on stage antics and emotionally turbulent times for the band - losing both Steph and Frank Carter - have perhaps taken their toll.

Stu can’t help but look grumpy and resigned rather than roused and Wade’s voice is a tad hoarse, but they have tunes to potentially carry them through a set far longer than this hour of hits, and there’s never a dull moment.

Despite the loss of Steph, the barrage of distortion doesn’t seem to have lost much volume or punch and in tracks like Victim Culture and Everybody Loves You, there’s perhaps a new emphasis to Lags’ solos. One thing that tonight does prove is that although the crowd are at their most batshit for oldies like In The Belly of a Shark and Orchestra of Wolves, there’s still plenty of adrenaline pumping for newer tracks like Mondo Chaos, Outsider Art and True Colours.

Sure, Gallows will still do the crowd-pleasers, but they demonstrate that they’re still worth their salt with their post-Frank material. Plenty have written them off, but you can bet Gallows still have every intention of fighting the good fight as long as their own bodies will allow them.


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