Landmine Marathon returns with yet another roaring bonfire of the sanities with Gallows, the Phoenix-based band’s latest full-length recording.
This is, of course, the follow-up to last year’s Sovereign Descent. That record, akin to a “runaway school bus,” laid the foundation for a somewhat more systematic, weighty recording. That’s not to say that Landmine Marathon has taken their foot off the gas, mind you, but rather that something about Gallows feels more attentive.
Make no mistake, Gallows runs 30 minutes and gusts through everything in a working-class panic. This is life-threatening metal from the Arizona desert, music with a job to do.
Vocalist Grace Perry continues to daze in pulling booming barks and grating sounds from what seems like the middle of nowhere. She is as spectacular a metal vocalist as I’ve come across, with a volatile range that confidently shifts from truncated snarls to extraordinary screeches in the same shrinking seconds. Perry is lethal like a knife to the stomach.
Album opener “Three Snake Leaves” features snaking, screeching guitar riffs that offer a false sense of security before the grind sets in. New drummer Andy York hammers away while the guitars of Dylan Thomas and Ryan Butler bowl through an arrangement that speeds uncontrollably like a mining car heading off the tracks. A rapid solo and a tempo swing is the “lull” required to make it through before the cart heads off again.
Lulls in Landmine Marathon’s attack don’t come easy, however, as the quintet proves throughout Gallows. There’s no funny stuff, no uncanny interludes set to numinous backing music. The force is generally set to two speeds: fast and faster.
The booming resolution of “Cutting Flesh and Bone” is authentication of that mentality, as the band persists through post-punk awesomeness without so much as a glance in the rear-view mirror.
The fugitive vehicle-of-choice attitude carries on through tracks like “Liver and Lungs” and the devious throat-shredding of “Cloaked in Red.”
Perhaps the only modification in theme comes with “Knife from My Sleeve,” a shattering track that opens with a set of power chords and screams from Perry that’ll give you nightmares. The sludgy intro soon gives way to a strenuous attack, though, and Perry’s vocals blend with bassist Matt Martinez’s grating tone to ear-splitting consequences.
Gallows may be more of the same from Landmine Marathon, but they’ve tensed the boundaries slightly. For a half hour that feels like repeated punches to the face, this is your ticket to ride.