Over the past few years, there’s seems to have been a real resurgence in dark, mysterious synth driven music. Often borrowing its atmosphere from video-nasty horror flicks and late night city ambience, it’s a style of music that’s becoming increasingly popular. It’s interesting, then, that Gallops have chosen to tread a different path. On face value, they’re not unlike countless other instrumental dark synth groups. With sophomore effort ‘Bronze Mystic’ they, like so many others, place an emphasis on ambiguity and atmosphere and their weapons of choice – brash buzzing synths, urgent drums and palm muted, funky guitars – are not wholly unusual for the style of music they play. That’s largely where the similarities end, though.
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Instead of aiming to conjour up an atmosphere akin to a grimey ’80s horror soundtrack, Gallops instead trade in something prouder. It’s not that ‘Bronze Mystic’ isn’t dark at times, but the crashing, cascading drums and ringing power chords found on much of the album bring to mind a twisted version of strutting stadium rock rather than the acompaniment to sleazy horror flick. Gallops, then, are an interesting proposition; they have the arsenal of a sinister darkwave synth group but the attitude of a vitriolic rock band. On paper, it’s a meshing of genres that sounds awkard but works surprisingly well.
The taut, funky guitars of ‘Graverobber’ work well with the warped yet warm synth washes, creating an atmosphere unexpectedly reminiscent of the accessible end of Vaporwave. There’s an almost restless urgency to experiment on ‘Bronze Mystic’, with many tracks shapeshifting into a new form sometimes before the band’s relentless grooves quite have time to settle. At times, it’s perhaps a little too eager to shake things up; an admirable trait, certainly, but one that occasionally works to the detriment of the atmoshere and rhythms the band create.
Nonetheless the band’s propensity towards complexity in their pieces is ultimately for the best. The ceaseless forward motion on ‘Prince 0’ ensures not a moment is wasted and the results positively scream for your attention. Though often grizzled and intense, the synths do, at times, bubble down to a warm post-synth-pop glow, as on the slick ‘Crystal Trap’, allowing for momentary respite from the intensity of the album’s more eager moments.
‘Bronze Mystic’ is an album imbued with a unique mixture of melodramatic rock chords, funky deftness and slick electronic rhythms. It’s a refreshingly new take on modern electronic music and the results are an album never short on variety. Whether Gallops find themselves exploring the gigantic electro rock of ‘Pale Force’, the compulsive, defiant groove of ‘Meta’ or the throbbing intensity of ‘Nitejewel’, ‘Bronze Mystic’ is an album with a defiantly individual spirit.