Will the satanic psychobilly of the Goddamn Gallows ever stop growing? The Trial answers that question with shredding guitar solos over melodic pirate accordions, banjos and blast beats, bluegrass, and bad vibes. Hell no, they haven't stopped expanding their macabre punk sound. And why would they? "We're in a rare position where we can do whatever the hell we want," says guitarist Mikey Classic. "We want to do what we want to do and we want to make our own trails. We want to create."
A friend of the band coined the phrase "whateverthefuckabilly" to describe the Gallows roulette wheel of influences. Banjos, mandolins, metal guitar tones, polka rhythms, thrashing drums, sea shanties — the list is endless and doesn't give a damn what people think.
"We've been listening to a lot of stoner metal lately," says Classic about the sound of The Trial. "And we've brought in banjo and mandolin and accordion in the past, kind of molding our sound with an old-time bluegrass type of sound. We wanted to change it up some more with some stoner, doomy type of mixture with all that shit."
If the Electric Wizard channeling album cover wasn't enough, the stoner metal inflections are most noticeable on "It's Gonna Be OK (No, It's Not)." Imagine the gloomiest downtuned guitar riff — the kind of stuff disenchanted teens would slowly and violently headbang to. Now imagine it with an accordion and banjo. "Drink the water/ brown and decayed/ My body's aching pain/ But don't worry they said/ It's gonna be OK," Classic sings in a demonic Tom Waits wail.
In the ever-twisting world of The Trial, the Gallows hurl another element into the mix with the surprisingly quiet (well, quieter) "When No One's Around." The track uses the aesthetic stylings the band employs on the rest of the LP, but frames it as a country progression. If Goddamn Gallows ever did an unplugged session, "When No One's Around" would be the big finish. It leads in nicely to the straight-for-the-throat style of the hardcore broken piano sound of the titular track.
The underlying feeling that the listener is on a rickety pirate ship for the majority of the album is acknowledged in the story of closing track "Down with the Ship." The track is about as cynical as it gets, matching the tone of the rest of the LP. "There is a crack in everything/ That's how the light gets through/ The weeds will tear apart any walls they build/ And the lies become the truth," Classic sings.
"It's a great-ending sea shanty about everything falling apart, falling into the ocean and sinking and dying," he says.
Out of everything that The Trial puts forth, the most disturbing is "Honeyhole." It tells the nonfiction story of a prostitute with a special gimmick. "A friend of ours was an EMT and he told us a story about this hooker that he used to service that had a colostomy bag," says Classic. "It kept on getting infected, and finally he was like, 'Listen you've got to take better care of yourself.'"
"She was like, 'Baby, that's my honey hole. Boys pay extra to go in there,'" he continued. So the band had to write a song about it, and they did so from her perspective.
Given the band's often freaky content, the guitarist says that a lot of the success the band has seen in indie publications surprises him simply because, "We're all deviants, we're all derelicts, we're all shitheads."
Diverse and disparate doesn't quite do this collection of depraved story-songs justice. Focusing on the musical trees means that the listener will miss the uncommon forest that The Trial plants. Granted, it's a forest full of pessimism and poop bags, but it's not an experience you'll find anywhere else.