The 25th September sees Kent based “blues stained” hard rockers Gallows Circus release their 2nd EP.
Since forming in 2016 and releasing their debut EP at the end of 2017 the band have built up a trusted and loyal following through their exhilarating live shows that have seen them entertain crowds up and down the country with their brand of blues hearted, dirty rock that is inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, Free, Thin Lizzy and more.
I am going to be honest here and say before I really start that I love these guys, in a very non tactile, non sexual kind of way, although man hugs do happen.
I adore their music and watching them perform just really gets my juices flowing. It is a love affair that started in early 2019, when by some strange turn of unfortunate events, although nothing as dangerous as those of Lemony Snicket, I ended up at the Harp Restrung in Folkestone, watching them rather than seeing Burnt Out Wreck in Hastings who had cancelled their gig last minute due to singer Gary Moat being ill.
After all, the wife had given me a “pass” for the evening so I wasn’t going to turn that down and through the beauty of google and Facebook events I quickly made alternate plans and headed east from my house instead of west.
What a bit of good fortune on my part, although not for Gary and Burnt Out Wreck. Since then I have seen Gallows Circus at every opportunity possible and have always walked away from every show with a massive ear to ear smile on my face.
They are most definitely a big part of my musical life as a 50 year old rock fan and that makes me a very contented person.
What the band are releasing here on II, their subtly titled 2nd EP is a 5 track masterpiece that will send your auditory senses into overdrive for its 18 minutes and 43 seconds duration.
For me, personally, that isn’t long enough so I have had it on repeat for the last couple of hours, not just to get to grips with it for this review but because it is that bloody good, I don’t want to stop listening to it. All five tracks are absolute gems and I can’t decide which is my favourite as on each listen it keeps changing.
The version of the EP I received from the bands PR has 6 tracks on it but having received my physical copy this week which I pre-ordered when the release was announced I see that it only has 5 tracks on it so that is what I shall review.
The sixth “missing track” is a cleaned up version of the opening track “Hell’s Whiskey” which has been sent done for the radio stations.
As an opening track, “Hell’s Whiskey” is an absolute belter, starting off with a delicate guitar part from Ben Attwood, it isn’t long before your speakers are bursting as the band and track really kicks in.
It is completely groove laden, full of wonderful six string melody and driven throughout by the powerhouse rhythm section of Richard Tunbridge and Steve Kitchener.
It is a very familiar track to me as the band have been including it in their set for the best part of a year now and feels like meeting an old friend again.
As I said in my review of the track when the band released it as a single, vocalist Ian Day has an outstanding vocal range.
He teases you with glimpses of it throughout here but on the last line you get a little glimpse of his full potential as he raises the bar with the line “I’ll take the bottle with me”, which if given the chance he will. You have been warned
“Medicine Man” was the 2nd track to be released in the build up to the EP’s release and is a full on Gallows Circus rocker.
It is full of melody, rhythm, swagger and gives the listener plenty of opportunity to get those body parts moving in the name of rock ‘n’ roll.
Drummer Steve Kitchener may well be at the back when they are on stage but he is at the forefront on this number as the power and noise he generates throughout will leave your chest beating to his rhythm long after the track has finished.
I could wax lyrical about Ben Attwood, the bands six string maestro long into the night over a few glasses of Hell’s Whiskey but anything I could say about his playing he says himself in his guitar work on this track, just have a listen to his solo and tell me that he does not ooze enough talent, soul and feeling that in the future his name could be mentioned in conversations about great rock guitarists.
One thing that really captivated me when I first saw the band was the soulfulness in Ian Day’s vocals and “Who Cares” has that in abundance.
The lead into the track with Day singing over a pulsating drum part from Kitchener is just mesmerising and when you add in the groovy, funky, call it what you like, bass part from Richard Tunbridge you end up with a song that is so infectious you won’t be able to stop your body moving to its beat.
This takes us into “Bring Your Crucifix” which is another crunching rocker. There are some exquisite time changes throughout and the chorus just leads itself for a nice bit of crowd participation.
As I said I am a big fan of Gallows Circus and one thing that has always hit me when listening to them is the way that Ian uses his vocal range, not just on a line but sometimes on a word and then the way he just smoothly uses that to move from one word to another.
It really helps create something so elegant and beautiful in their music and gives the melody to their tracks a total uniqueness and that is clearly evident on this number.
Finally we are at the last track, “Hunt You Down”, which starts off with another intricate and delicate guitar intro, played out with more soulful Day vocals before you get hit right in the solar plexus with some more monstrous tub thumping and heavy duty bass from that oh so powerful rhythm section.
There are time changes aplenty as the track builds and builds and then boom it lets you fall, before building you right back up again.
It is just delicious and as I write I think it is possibly my favourite track on the EP although that could change on its next listen. I have no doubt though that this will become a live favourite amongst the Gallows faithful and I cannot wait to hear it.
It is made for the live environment and I am sure it will get an airing at the two nights the band are playing at Leo’s Red Lion in Gravesend on the 3rd and 4th October.
To finish off, in this time where everything is being affected by Covid-19 I shall give you two bits of advice.
Firstly, after listening to the EP, make sure you wash your hands as this is pure and filthy rock n roll and it is highly contagious. Secondly, be aware, Gallows Circus are unleashing something on the world here that should not be ignored, you should be vigilant in looking out for live dates as and when they happen and make sure you get yourself a ticket to see what in my opinion is a band not to be missed.
Bring Your Crucifix
Hunt You Down
Gallows Circus are
Ian Day – Vocals
Ben Attwood – Guitars
Richard Tunbridge – Bass
Steve Kitchener – Drums
Connect with Gallows Circus Online
Review by Darren Smith for MPM
Band Photos by Dorothy Clarke – Gallows Circus official.