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Gallows – Orchestra of Wolves

Gallows - Orchestra of Wolves

London-based Gallows are about the most exhilarating thing happening to punk and rock at the moment; and Americans, they are infiltrating. References to Gallows are becoming common enough in U.S.-based publications that people often have an “I’ve heard that name, but I don’t know why” reaction. It’s time to embrace Gallows as more than just a word.

It’s difficult to describe Gallows, in fact it’s almost insulting to Gallows to compare them, but if you must…imagine a British interpretation of The Bronx—only more pissed off and way more energetic.

Gallows put on one of the most phenomenal live shows of any band in existence right now. A recent gig at King’s College, London saw so many fans storm the stage during the infamous title-track to their debut, Orchestra of Wolves, they had to start it twice. The fans leaping onstage ran off the edge and sprinted across the tops of heads in the crowd—utter mayhem from beginning to end. While American shows have been a little tamer, it’s just a matter of time before Gallows finds its audience here.

With frequently disturbing lyrics, listening to Orchestra of Wolves is a sometimes shocking experience simply because the lyrics are decipherable. But those who take offense to Frank Carters’ lyrics are often (if not always) misinterpreting them.

Carter, who’s been sober for several years, often writes from the perspective of someone who gets shit-faced all the time, gets into fights, and is an absolute pig to women.

Always frustrated and enraged, his lyrics refer to his own past and the frustrations he deals with day-to-day. Always personal, as in “Stay Cold,” where Carter unleashes fury about the time the band had 1000 pounds stolen from them while they performed in their hometown of Watford; sometimes metaphorical, like on “In The Belly Of A Shark” (So here I lie, In the belly of shark / So fucking cold, so fucking dark), which actually refers to the breakdown of a relationship.

Spending just a little time around him, it is quickly clear that Carter is a man with a very deep affection for his family. His brother Steph also plays guitar in the band, and the two are constantly embracing each other; further, at one show in London, Frank wouldn’t let the show begin until he got a hearty round of applause for his mum.

On the title track, Carter belts out some vile words that sound on the onset as if they are purely misogynistic:

“My name is Casanova; I’m basically a man / I have the head of a wolf, the appetite of an entire land / This song is going out to the girls; you’re all looking fucking fine / Baby spread those shaking legs ‘cuz I’m feeling fucking hungry tonight.”

But by the end of the song, it’s clear that this is a mere impersonation, or perhaps a reflection on a former self, as the entire band screams over and over: “The hardest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” This climax usually results in minor riots at their British shows.

July 10, 2007 marks the U.S. release for Orchestra Of Wolves. The album was released in Great Britain in October 2006 through a tiny DIY label named In At The Deep End, but has been re-worked for U.S. audiences by indie giant Epitaph. The U.S. release boasts 15 tracks—six more that were on the original. Warner Brothers is handling the band’s international re-release, slated for July 18, 2007. It will include an entire extra disc including new material, BBC Punk and Rock Sessions and a blistering cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown,” which has been storming audiences on this side of the Atlantic.

Epitaph Records


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