Facing the Gallows – Chapters Review

Chapters ArtworkI have no earthly idea what “Extreme doom glam punk crusty grind black death sludge prog numetal speed viking stoner power core” is but apparently that is Facing The Gallows‘ genre according to Facebook… To me it sounds like metalcore. Now, I’m not a fan of metalcore, I’m more of a viking/death/power/black/prog/glam/speed kinda guy. But I see those words in their genre, so I gave them a shot. And I was better for it.

What the ‘Gallows boys have forged here is a solid slab of modern metal, a long time coming for fans. Facing the Gallows have been going strong since 2007 and the long wait has been worth it. Chapters is a focussed aural assault; one I’m sure will pique the interest of not only the local -core sub-scene, but perhaps even on other continents.

The album bursts out of the gates with a foreword into “Avarice” and doesn’t let you catch your breath until the quasi-acoustic “Serenity”. It’s hard, it’s fast (roughly twenty five minutes) and it’s metal! The level of songwriting is really special and it’s no wonder Facing the Gallows are regarded as within the highest echelons of the South African scene. Live, it must be one hell of a show.

Throughout the album, peppered between the short, chuggy riffs there are a few melodic segues that I really like… and I do like my melodies. Above and beyond the songwriting, every instrument is expertly forced into submission to produce the sound the band wants; which is to say, “Damn, these guys can play them strings and skins!” The mix of the album is also top notch. I never felt like any of the single elements were competing for the spotlight. Vocalist, Bryan’s growls are the cohesive element bringing the whole thing together. Also, gang vocals!

If I had to pick a favourite track, and I suppose I do, it would be “Borders”. It opens with a squealing guitar solo and has a solid groove after the inevitable breakdown. And there’s something very Rage Against the Machine in growling “Fuck who you are!”. It really appeals to my young and rebellious side. That’s it, I just realised, this music is young, brash and rebellious. The ones who listen to classic metal like Pantera / Slayer / Maiden / Priest and the like (myself included) are the old fuddy-duddies in metal. This younger “noise” as some would call it is the evolution of those ideas. Without turning this review into a anthropological study, a la Sam Dunn, this new generation of metal is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

facing-the-gallows-promo-2013We have here a great example of the musical and technical talent hidden in this country with regards to the more modern metal styles. It certainly doesn’t re-invent the wheel or take risks in terms of musical experimentation, but that’s fine- trying to be anything it’s not. But what it is gets the horns up from me.

Check out the Lyric video for “Avarice” below:

And be sure to catch Facing the Gallows supporting Asking Alexandria next year! Show those brits that South African metalheads mean to take over!