"My name is Casanova," Frank Carter menacingly spews out in the opening of "Orchestra of Wolves," the title track to Gallows' debut album. However that's not a come-on, girls, but a warning, as this dandy in wolf's clothing is here not to woo you, but to rip the heart right out of your chest, a Jack the Ripper of Romance. Gallows had already established themselves as one of the most explosive new bands on the U.K. hardcore scene, their gigs drenched in such intensity that few emerged unscathed. This album captures their live force to a 'T', from the opening assault of "Kill the Rhythm" -- a barrage of guitars, clashing, crashing, off-kilter rhythm and furious tag-team vocals -- to the closing careen through Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown." In between, the band show off their many roots and inspirational branches, which swing from American and Swedish hardcore to metal, and on to the discordance and angular rhythms of the modern underground (via the '70s post-punk art school scene). It's a wonderful mishmash of sounds and styles, reverberating out of the past and into the future. The Stooges, for instance haunt "Orchestra of Wolves," while a flash of the Sex Pistols echoes across "Black Heart Queen," at least until it slows down into a '70s-styled hard rocker. But for all the crash, bang, wallop of their music, melodies still hang from Gallows, notably on "Abandon Ship." An insanely catchy hook wriggles across "Rolling with the Punches," a song that also boasts quite classy keyboards, and ends by creeping through a Gothic crypt, which segues perfectly into the Hammer House of Horror instrumental interlude of "Last Fight for the Leaving Dead." On "In the Belly of a Shark," the band smashes psychobilly into hardcore, while a whiff of the Specials wafts through "Will Someone Shoot That Fucking Snake." And that's the beauty of Gallows: for all their viciousness, blistering guitars, and unquotable lyrics, there's much more to them than just bile and rage, assaultive sounds and skewered rhythms. With their many nods to the past both musically and thematically, they've turned the page over, and begun to write hardcore's history anew.
AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene