rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Shadows Of War
02. Guns For Hire
03. White Death
04. Revolution Scream
05. Crashdive

Reported to have been snapped up by a bigger label, TAILGUNNER are heavy metal purists on a mission. Formed in 2019, the British quintet have released a handful of singles to date, all included on this all-too-brief introductory EP.

Yes, they do sound as if the last 30 years never happened, but unlike many of the retro metal bands that emerged 15 or so years ago (largely in the wake of the always excellent WOLF),  TAILGUNNER have put songwriting and intensity before period precision and inexplicable haircuts. Every one of these songs is an anthem, and the production strikes the right balance between 1982 and 2022; detonating with plenty of modern power but also gritty, grubby and spiritually linked to speed metal's ageless, filthy rattle.

Opener "Shadows of War" is a stately, overblown epic with a soaring chorus; "Guns For Hire" is a full-bore speed banger, with sumptuous MAIDEN overtones and a hint of punk snot. "White Death" plunders from the likes of HELLOWEEN and RUNNING WILD, without directly emulating either band. Meanwhile, a mid-section that owes its blasphemous heart to MERCYFUL FATE says everything about TAILGUNNER's collective good taste. "Revolution Scream" strips things down to a blinding, '80s sheen, with triumphant DOKKEN-isms at every turn. The closing title track is a dark thrash adventure, heavy on the dueling leads, and a great showcase for vocalist Craig Cairns's versatile range. Throughout it all, TAILGUNNER sound electrified by metal's ageless power. Sensible people, these.

This band probably won't be huge because people are fucking idiots: but they should be. The old school never closed, and its latest alumni are sharp as fuck! Roll on the full album.

Author: Dom Lawson
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