When Frank Carter announced he was leaving Gallows in 2011, most people thought he was crazy. The Gallows enjoying heaping helpings of high praise and adulation. The second coming of hardcore punk, heirs to the throne. I was never fully on board with all the buzz and excitement generated over the band though. There are lots of great hardcore bands out there right now, bands even better than Gallows, bands like Comeback Kid and Defeater. Gallows is a great band though and it was exciting prior to the release of ‘Grey Britain’ to see whether the band would succumb to the dreaded sophomore slump or return with another monster.
As it turns out, Carter’s idea of how to avoid this was different from the rest of the band’s as, midway through the recording process, he quit the band citing that old familiar band breaker, creative differences.
Given the sound that would eventually emerge with Carter’s next band, one has to wonder just how ‘Grey Britain’ would’ve sounded had he gotten his way. A softer Gallows record? Less screamy? The band itself has said that Carter wanted to point the band towards a more Queens of the Stone Age sound. I can see the band not going for that.
Either way, when Carter unleashed ‘Anthems’ by his new band Pure Love a year and a half later, I personally, was taken aback. This doesn’t sound like the dude from the Gallows, this doesn’t sound like the Gallows at all. This isn’t even punk.
From the opening, distorted pickings of ‘She’ (not a Misfits cover) and Frank’s Jon Fratelli sounding vocals, you quickly understand this will not be a Gallows retread. Not that this is a knock to Pure Love. Lots of musicians have a number of different musical muscles to flex, Carter is just choosing to flex his melodic rock muscle here. And as long as you don’t go into ‘Anthems’ expecting ‘Orchestra of Wolves, Part II’ there’s a lot of great music on the record.
Songs like ‘The Hits’ and ‘Handsome Devils Club’ deliver chorus’ with impossibly catchy hooks, while ‘Anthem’ and ‘Heavy Kind of Chain’ slow things down for more reflective ponderings and ethereal atmospheres.
The heavier tinged ‘Scared To Death’ and ‘Riot Song’ speak of unrest in the streets. Though, truth be told, you feel that Carter singing ‘there’s a riot on the streets of England’ in ‘Riot Song’ doesn’t have the same power coming from Pure Love as it would coming from Gallows.
With nods to everything from Bon Jovi to Kasabian to Arctic Monkeys, this is Brit rock looking to fill the void left by Oasis’ disbanding, but in many ways with more balls than those ego tripped squabblers ever had the ability or bravery for.
As it is, ‘Anthems’ is an incredibly well written record brimming over with heartfelt sincerity and infectious hooks at every turn.
It won’t win over or impress any of Gallows’ more pure bred fans, but it isn’t looking to. As Frank Carter himself said in a recent interview, ‘I don’t give a fuck about Gallows fans.’ And really, what’s more punk rock than that?