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Gallows: Grey Britain (Reprise)

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With Grey Britain, South London hard-core quintet Gallows unleashes a devastating screed against the stupider features of 21st-century English life, particularly the knife-happy, chip-stuffed, binge-drinking, surveillance-crazed, sex-drunk, credit-maxed mentality that plagues a once-sturdy people who withstood German air bombardment during both world wars.

Vocalist Frank Carter certainly doesn't put much stock in his fellow Brits today, conjuring nightmarish images of vermin and disease as he does in "London Is the Reason," where "the bodies you thought would never need graves / pave the streets of London town."

As much as it is a sonic assault, Grey Britain is also a literary vision of hell, with lyrics that boil over with the purest vitriol. Check out "Crucifucks," in which Carter shrieks that there's "no future for England's sonsn/ they're all 9-years-old and carry guns." This isn't casual analysis, either; dude sounds like the issue gnaws at him. Meanwhile, Carter's brother Stephen and Laurent Barnard team up and prove to be diabolical guitarists, fashioning riffs that cut like switchblades one moment, then bludgeon like slaughterhouse bolt guns the next.

Produced by GGGarth (Rage Against the Machine), Grey Britain reconfigures hardcore as an apocalyptic forecast, pushing the genre in a darker-than-ever direction at a time when U.S. hardcore seems unsure. Gallows doesn't hesitate; neither should you. Listen to England's death rattle as interpreted by the most significant hard-core act around right now.

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