More than two decades on from their debut album and in the wake of the death of bassist Simon Wring, Gallon Drunk have developed a thicker skin than they once had. There's a bit less swagger and noticeably more focus and determination in Gallon Drunk's ninth studio effort, 2014's The Soul of the Hour, but the result is a powerful set of songs that live up to this band's formidable legacy. Opening with "Before the Fire," which begins with understated drums and piano and slowly builds to a howling frenzy, The Soul of the Hour finds Gallon Drunk laying claim to a place where darkness holds all risk and all power, and as they wind their way through raunchy hard rock ("The Dumb Room"), slow bluesy studies (the title tune), gentle but forbidding soundscapes ("Dust in the Light"), and garage-psych freakouts ("The Speed of Fear"), Gallon Drunk confirm they have the muscle and the imagination to make this stuff both personal and compelling. As usual, founding member James Johnston is the star of this particular show, building layers of guitars and keyboards over blasts of vocal power that give The Soul of the Hour its strength, but drummer Ian White is an invaluable second-in-command, keeping time and adding valuable dynamics and punctuation throughout, and horn player Terry Edwards and new bassist Leo Kurunis add plenty of color and texture on the high and low end. Producer Johann Scheerer gives the sessions a natural, roomy sound that makes the interplay between the musicians all the more impressive, and The Soul of the Hour confirms that Gallon Drunk are bloodied but unbowed, still raging against the world around them and just as powerful as ever.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming