Review: Tailgunner – Guns For Hire

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Shoot to kill.

Relative newcomers Tailgunner have wasted no time since bursting onto the scene in January 2022. With multiple singles, an EP, and two UK headlining tours already under their bullet studded belts, they will punctuate their victorious arrival with the release of their debut full length album Guns For Hire on July 14th 2023 via Fireflash Records. Taking elements of traditional heavy metal, speed metal, power metal and thrash metal, Tailgunner attempts to bring the classic soundscapes of the late ’70s and early ’80s metal-sphere into the modern day. While the group is still showing room to grow, and there are bits of the record that don’t fully gel together, there are some admirable performances and songwriting that show a lot of promise.

The aesthetic of the group is undoubtedly awesome, with a badass album cover drawing in the listener and building anticipation for what the sounds behind it will entail. Does the band completely capitalize on the hype? Not exactly, but they don’t outright misfire either. Guns For Hire is a solid outing from a young band that has some choice cuts and room to grow.

Tailgunner is composed of five very talented thrashers. Craig Cairns, the mouthpiece of the group who shows a lot of energy and promise. Guitar duties are handled by Patrick van der Völlering and Zach Salvini, both of whom have standout moments and work very well together. Thomas Hewson on bass and Sam Caldwell behind the kit fill out the rhythm section of the group and help give the necessary speed to the gang, and hold everyone else in time.

“Shadows Of War” is initially an awesome opening. The guitar harmonies, synths, drums and energy the band brings is explosive and make a solid first impression. After a while, admittedly, it does get a little wishy-washy and shifts between captivating and dragging. The playing is excellent and caps off with a solid ending. “Guns For Hire” is another instant hook. With its thunderous drums and more natural sounding vocals, it’s a good (if not slightly one-note) step up from the previous track. Its chorus is definitely the strongest moment of the song. “White Death” has some fantastic guitarwork that carries the track on its strings. Aside from the explosive solo and solid ending, the track feels a bit packed with some filler segments. 

“Revolution Scream” continues the pattern of having tracks begin with excellent opening segments. While the production is a bit muddy, this is a standout of the early tracklist. There’s a standout opening portion of this number that’s colored with an Avenged Sevenfold styled neoclassical serrated edge. This track is a standout because it’s balanced. It knows when to be melodic and subdued, and knows when to let loose into a thrashy power metal fueled rampage.

“Futures Lost” holds the exact energy I was looking for with this album. While it’s not the most unique track in the world, it’s supremely entertaining. Good chorus builds incredibly well. As the album’s length was beginning to take hold here, “New Horizons” hit just in time. It takes the band’s strongest elements of earlier tracks like muscular solos and catchy choruses and takes it in stride. This energy carries perfectly into the anthemic “Warhead”. This is perhaps the most fun number on the whole album and I’d kill to see it live as I’m sure everyone in the crowd would be into it. Not only is the bass and guitar work fantastic, but the vocals peak here. It’s the pinnacle of the record.

“Crashdive” continues the upward momentum. This “Two Minutes to Midnight”-esqe bruiser contains perhaps the most enjoyable solo on the record. It’s punctuated with excellent vocal overlaying and fiercely effective harmonizing on the ending moments. Tailgunner continues to prove they are the kings of opening up a song with “Blood For Blood”. The overpowering guitars, thunderous drums and well added backing vocals give way to a catchy chorus. It’s another standout, solidifying the later sections of this record as its strongest and most consistent. “Rebirth” has some solid build up, is executed well and has a solid structure, but is just too long and crumbles under the weight of its ambition. It’s still an admittedly epic final track with effective backing vocals and harmonies. 

Tailgunner are onto something solid here. There’s some really great moments, and they show a ton of promise and potential. The first half of the record overall isn’t great, but it builds enough to the point where the last few tracks are downright fist pumping ragers. It feels like if the band had more direction behind the scenes and cut out some of the more drawn out bits, then Guns For Hire would feel much stronger. It’s still a solid debut, and I have faith Tailgunner will continue to grow from here. Whatever they do next, I’ll surely be listening.

Standout tracks: “Warhead,” “Crashdive,” & “Blood For Blood”

Guns For Hire gets 3 flaming Toilets ov Hell out of 5

Guns For Hire by Tailgunner is out now via Fireflash Records.

 

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