Tailgunner
Crashdive EP

When one thinks about traditional Heavy Metal, a lot of what immediately comes to mind is, inevitably, British. From the obvious big guns of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, to the more second-tier acts like Saxon, Diamond Head or Cloven Hoof, and a seemingly endless list of others, you just cannot think Heavy Metal without thinking about those Wold Cup-underachieving, warm bear and beans on toast-loving pommies (our boss here at TOTD is British. I’m probably fired now). But the truth of the matter is, despite the huge modern comeback of traditional Heavy Metal sounds, the Brits haven’t really been much a part of it. Why? Why haven’t they embraced their roots and come to wave the flag of Heavy Metal’s modern movement?

Maybe the Brits have just been waiting for their new champion to escape from the shadows of their past heroes, to raise the banner and claim the throne that is rightfully theirs. And just maybe, Tailgunner is that band.

One thing is for certain, if you’re a fan of Traditional Heavy Metal, you’ll be hard pressed to walk away from Crashdive without a big ol’ dumb smile on your face. We’re talking instantly-memorable, catchy-as-all-frig choruses, a barrage of simple but super mighty riffs, really all the hallmarks you’re looking for to don the leather pants, sleeveless Ts and Nike Hi-Tops and bang your head like your life is depending on it. From the get-go, “Shadows of War” offers up the band’s more rousing side, opting for a dose of mid-paced rhythmic rumbling – accentuated with some perfectly executed melodic leads, and one hell of a hook that will bury itself in your brain and won’t let go. It’s a perfect introduction to get you familiar with what Tailgunner is here to do, immediately reaching out to the listener and essentially making them part of the whole experience, because before the song is over, you will be singing along. I’m sorry, you just don’t have a choice in the matter.

From there, Tailgunner really rips the throttle into a high gear. “Guns for Hire” ups the energy on a big way, without sacrificing any of the innate memorability or catchiness of the more anthemic opening track. If anything, the more aggressive riffs and full-throttle attack make this track even more immediately magnetic, drawing you with an old school swagger and, probably more importantly, some really dang good riffs. The duo of Patrick van der Völlering and Zach Salvini are taking every lesson they’ve learned from the greats like Maiden, Priest, Saxon and Tokyo Blade – and putting their influences on full display for the world to enjoy all over again. In a world of F-35s and Su-57s, it’s like taking a Supermarine Spitfire out of some old British countryside barn, slapping a new coat of paint on and taking to the skies – and I mean this in the absolute very best way. It’s not gonna hit in the same kind of way as more modern metal bands might, but like seeing a Spitfire in flight, goddamn if it isn’t still a thing to behold.

The band keeps the high-energy attack going with “White Death” which is, in my humble opinion, where we begin to start seeing the band’s real potential. From every songwriting perspective, it’s an absolute clinic – strong, purposeful riffs, perfectly complimentary rhythms, a dizzying lead section that is arguably the EP’s best, and great, storytelling lyrics that, all put together, make for the band’s strongest effort yet. It’s not that I wasn’t taking Tailgunner seriously to that point, but it gives the band more of an air of authenticity – like this isn’t just a band trying to capitalize on nostalgia – It feels like a band playing with genuine passion for this style of Heavy Metal. To back up that effort, title track “Crashdive” again feels like a band with far more experience than their young careers would suggest, leaning good and heavy on King Diamond‘s Abigail as its primary influence (though the chorus is 100% Maiden). It’s is easily the band’s most adventurous and ambitious track yet, and for me, cements the act as true, bona fide Heavy Metal heads, not just a bunch of dudes doing retro metal cosplay.

Kinda like how the NBA is better when the Celtics and Lakers are good, the world of Heavy Metal is better when the Brits are leading the pack. I’m not going to say that Crashdive quite puts them in the drivers seat just yet, but it’s a heck of a starting point – and hopefully serves as a catalyst to a country whose Heavy Metal roots practically demand more modern representation. Keep Tailgunner (along with new Atomic Fire subsidiary, Fireflash Records) on your radar, because I predict some very exciting things on the horizon for these dudes.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
December 16th, 2022

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