You have to wonder if the A&R man who handed Gallows a £1 million record deal in 2009 is still in a job. Wary of potential accusations of a sell-out, the London hardcore punks gave their major-label paymasters a bile-laden, state-of-the-nation rant of an album named Grey Britain, sold less than 50,000 copies worldwide, and were promptly dropped. The uncompromising rage-rockers have since lost their talismanic front man, Frank Carter, replacing him with Wade MacNeil of Toronto thrashers Alexisonfire, but neither of these setbacks looks to have dimmed their creative fervor. Back on an indie label where they always belonged, Gallows once again hit us with the sharp end of their visceral, serrated racket.
A riot of belligerent guitars, temper-tantrum percussion and MacNeil’s asbestos-throated growl, this follow-up is less politicized than Grey Britain, save for “Last June,” a piquant take on the police’s role in summer 2011′s global riots: “Pigs is pigs, I can’t relate/ You represent everything I hate!” Guttural, inchoate tracks like “Outsider Art” and “Vapid Adolescent Blues” could be the work of a 21st-century Black Flag, while “Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)” lauds the late Lux Interior, Johnny Thunders and Joe Strummer. It’s short on nuance and subtlety, sure, but as an adrenaline-drenched example of 21st-century UK punk, this is nigh on impossible to beat.