Album Review: Tailgunner – Guns for Hire

If you like your metal rooted in the classic style of Maiden, Helloween, Gamma Ray etc, then it is almost a given that you’ll love the debut album by Tailgunner. Ten songs of anthemic metal that switches from traditional to speed in an instant, combined with soaring clean vocals and dual guitar harmonies, Guns for Hire may not bring anything particularly novel to the table but what they do they do incredibly well. You may already be familiar with the band, as four of the tracks included in this album appeared last year on the Crashdive EP

Mixed and mastered by Olof Wikstrand of Enforcer, a man and a band who know a thing or two about traditional metal, the album is a pleasing release from start to finish. The title track demonstrates the band’s ability to go at full pace, with guitarists Patrick van der Völlering and Zach Salvini trading searing solos with each other; “White Death” brings the heavier approach with a head down piledriver soaked in melody, whilst “Warhead” is more classic in style.

One of the key factors in the success of any band who play this high energy metal is the quality of the singer and in Craig Cairns Tailgunner have a real gem. No stranger to the metal world, Cairns has a history with bands like Midnight Prophecy, Titan Blood, and a stint with UK thrashers Reign of Fury. His clean style is perfect for the band, and he brings an element that is often missing. There’s a confidence in his singing, with harmonies that Tailgunner employ to songs like “Revolution Scream” especially impressive. His style isn’t forced, and it’s that organic flow that works so well on Guns for Hire.

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Although Tailgunner may not bring anything especially new to the party, their music is certainly refreshing in a world full of cookie monster vocals and huge down tuned breakdowns. In fact, the old school feel of Guns for Hire, with its lyrical themes of wars and battles, ushers in a breath of fresh air to a scene that to be honest, is in danger of stagnation. Listen to “Futures Lost” with its dual guitar middle part, and you should get why I find this album such a joy. It’s perfectly played, with the tight rhythm section of founder and bassist Thomas Hewson and drummer Sam Caldwell locked in tight, it’s just anthemic metal that makes you smile. As Hewson says, “I want people to feel empowered when they hear our music, that’s what great Heavy Metal does for me. Music should make you feel like you can take on the world! “

Whether you are sufficiently empowered to take on the world is another debate, but there is no doubt that Tailgunner’s brand of metal works on every level. No ballads or filler, just ten tracks of pure heavy metal that should please all but the fussiest of metal fans.

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Guns for Hire is out now

Check out all the bands we review in 2023 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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