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Wednesday 1 November 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Tailgunner (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Tailgunner, Helldown, Madicide & Rites To Ruin, Fuel Rock Club, 26.10.23

Another Thursday gig another chance to see some great local supports and headliner on the rise. Feels like the Vexed gig all over again but tonight had a much more 'old school' flair to it.

Three supports can be wearisome but luckily South Wales/South West area can boast some of the best bands around kicking things off were M2TM 2023 finalists Rites To Ruin (8) who get better with every viewing, dipping into their debut but also bringing new songs, Krissie's vocals are still unearthly but the rest of the band are drilled technicians Matt, Paul and Tom linking for a some heavy rocking that blends thrash, prog and NWOBHM/power metal. Getting the crowd going it would have been nice to hear Lee's lead guitar when he was clearly shredding like a mutha. Still as I said Rites To Ruin get better with every viewing and they were on fire in Fuel.

Next however were Madicide (7) who did nothing to get rid of my thrash bias as the crossover foursome were a ball of molten energy, swearing and cursing (despite kids being present) to try to get the crowd pitting. Looking at the crowd that wasn't going to happen but good on them for trying despite the language. Unfortunately musically they play fairly standard thrash metal, the rawness of the vocals the only thing audible over what was a mess of distortion and fuzz. Thrash is not my favourite genre by a stretch but I can see some talent in Madicide, shame then that nothing could be heard over the drums, squealing leads (too much lead this time).

Next though were the band who were the slickest of the night, their sound was spot on, the songs were anthemic and the riffs heavy as M2TM 2023 Finalists Helldown (8) who once again smashed the Fuel stage with their modern groove/thrash metal that owes a lot to Machine Head but manages to fit on this classic metal billing too, they would support Gama Bomb a few days later along with Madicide. With all four of them gelling together on stage, there was little room for chit chat as they blasted through a masterclass of modern thrash influenced metal from the Swansea quartet. A rhythm section that punches you in the guts anchoring some killer leads and riffs, topped with growled vocals, Helldown are aggressive and formidable. If you're local get out to see Helldown as soon as possible as they are at their peak right now.

The headliners were only band on the bill hailing from England, the trad metal revivalists Tailgunner (7) seem as if they have been picked to be the latest band to break out of the trad metal pack, signing to Fireflash Records with their debut album Guns For Hire, they have been rising the ranks since. This extensive tour is evidence of that and watching Tailgunner you can see that they have a flair for performing, the professionalism of the band is obvious. Storming out of the gates with Guns For Hire and White Death it was twin axe harmonies and speed metal ferocity from the first moment.

Packing in most of the debut with some choices covers, the first part of the set flew by, but there was a little fatigue as a lot of what Tailgunner do is quite similar and aimed at their niche. Putting in a solo section that moved in to Grieg's In The Hall Of The Mountain King was a brave move but I'm not sure it paid off, perhaps Savatage's Hall Of The Mountain King would have been better. They did manage to get the crowd back though with a storming version of Painkiller. The excitement now back in the room some flag waving kept the crowd on side as the shifted at pace to their finale of Don't Talk To Strangers, originally by Dio.

Polishing off a night of solid heavy metal again these Thursday gigs deliver quality on a school night.

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