Shooting Daggers are a pretty irresistible prospect on paper, an impressive first listen on record, and your new favourite band by the end of Athames, their debut EP.

Invoking punk, post-hardcore, grunge, queercore and riot grrrl (tick all our boxes why don’t you) and evoking the sound of a more metallic, European-accented Petrol Girls, Shooting Daggers grab you by the throat and refuse to let go over the course of these six pummelingly-furious tracks, to the extent that the EP carries the emotional heft of a full album/statement, time-compressed into thirteen minutes.

Sal (vocals/guitar) and Bea (bass) have been active for about 4 years, give or take a few lockdowns, with a change of drummer to Raquel along the way. Shooting Daggers have a serious message and are clearly resolute in their intent; they have a label (New Heavy Sounds) and a PR company (For The Lost) and I mention the latter only because I’m about to quote them in concurring that there’s “more going on in one of these tracks than there is in most bands’ entire oeuvre.”

Listening to these songs, I’m reminded what a reductive label ‘hardcore’ can be, encompassing as it does such a spectrum of sub-subgenres – but serendipitously Shooting Daggers seem to traverse a whole range of them here, demonstrating a deft grasp of variety and dynamics.

‘No Exit’ is an immediate full-on assault which nevertheless embraces pop elements; recent single ‘Liar’ follows in even angrier mode, with a lyric – “I will write your name on the walls of the city!” – calling out abusers. 

Next track and earlier single ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl‘ has implacable energy and first-wave-punk riffs, ‘Carnage’ offers echoes of early US HC, while ‘We Will Live’ visits UK goth/post-punk territory.

Final track ‘You Can’t Kill Us’ lets out some of the scream that Sal has been partially holding back since the start of the record – but it’s a lucid revel yell; a precisely-aimed roar at patriarchy and oppression.

Perhaps as important as the political stance and affirmative allyship represented by Shooting Daggers as a group, as a debut record this simply rocks: pure impact, to apply a phrase from the past to a group that might just represent punk’s future. 

‘Athames’ is out now on CD, cassette and digital download. The vinyl is sold out on Bandcamp but if you hurry you might track down a copy at a distro. 

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