American band The Goddamn Gallows seems like a bunch of miscreants and misfits that have gone through quite some shit during their life. Their mix of punk rock, bluegrass, psychobilly and metal seems like a crazy mix, but only attracts me even more to the outfit. It creates a sound that has been referred to several times as “hobocore”, “gypsy-punk” and “americana-punk”, keeping their options free to break the mold or expectations of their music. Now four years after their last release, they’ve finally gathered up enough songs to release The Trial!
They open with Grassmuncher, an instrumental intro for the album in which you already get a taste of their eclectic sound. It starts off with a kind of gloomy mix of accordeon, banjo and a few other instruments to then halfway explode in a dance (moshpit) inducing frenzy. Blackened Soul takes you on a menacing waltz with a big country touch and haunting vocals for a good 5 minutes. And that feeling of menace, danger and dark gloom is something that seems to stick on the rest of the album…
Look at It’s Gonna Be OK (No, It’s Not) with its gritty Tom Waits-like vocals that grumble along with a soundtrack of doomy country and up-tempo hoe-down style music. Shitwish keeps true to that feeling, this time adding a foreboding organ and vocals that could have fitted in some of the filthiest black metal there is. This song ends up as being one of the weirdest and most unpredictable things I’ve heard in a while: black metal goes country/punk/psychedelic doom/gypsy…
Giving you a moment to come to your senses after the earlier mindfuck, they embark on a more ballad-driven song, channeling some of the greats in rock music in the more accessible track. The title track The Trial opens with a sort of funny sounding xylophone bit that gets joined by some up-tempo foot-stomping bluegrass diddling. And the vocals add even more to that bluegrass feel with an almost joyful sound! City of Fools is again a more rhythmic and almost catchy song that’ll get some heads nodding along the way.
Honeyhole picks up the doom quite a bit again and puts it in the blender with a touch of rockabilly and of course a pinch of gypsy country. For me personally though, everything that The Goddamn Gallows embodies came to full fruition in Dreadful Sinner. With a foot-stomping rockabilly/bluegrass rhythm, heaviness that many band would be jealous of, a menacing and foreboding atmosphere, excellent musicianship on banjo and guitar and amazingly simple and harmonizing vocals, this is truly the perfect representation of the crazy blend this band is. And last but not least, album closer Down With The Ship, picks up the influences of Tom Waits again with a song that easily could have been featured on one of the legend’s earlier albums of true storytelling through music!
The Goddamn Gallows is something weird and special at the same time. With not a single track that sounds the same, they bring with The Trial yet another record that will need some getting used to for many. But once you’ve gone past that first barrier of weirdness and seemingly chaos, you’ll find the songs to be absolute hidden treasures one for one! This is a truly remarkable release for sure!
Release date: March 23rd, 2018
Label: Sailor’s Grave Records
2. Blackened Soul
3. It’s Gonna Be OK (No, It’s Not)
5. When No One’s Around
6. The Trial
7. City of Fools
9. Dreadful Sinner
10. Down With The Ship