Album Review: Tailgunner - Guns For Hire
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Tailgunner have been on the up and up as of late; unveiling themselves through live shows, social media and now, here, through their first studio work titled Guns For Hire. Formed in 2018 out of the United Kingdom, Tailgunner are a band firmly rooted in all things old school, yet the band did not storm out of the gates initially. The band’s first Singles didn’t release until only last year whereupon we soon received their first EP, Crashdive, last June, only for additional Singles to see the light of day. Now, prepped for a mid-July release date, Guns Of Hire, the band’s long awaited studio debut sees all their efforts come together in fruition. Releasing your first album through a record label is great feat, and with Fireflash Records supporting Tailgunner, it sets a grand precedent the band shall follow with. Let’s see where Guns For Hire takes us.
I love the attitude this album presents for us; Tailgunner are a heavy metal band through blood and bone and yet, in spite of easy pitfalls they could have fallen through, their sound feels fresh and exciting and doesn’t feel like a mere rehash of established metal aesthetic. The production applied to Guns For Hire results in a very clean and polished performance from the band but there’s still enough power conveyed, that their energy doesn’t fall stale or familiar to our memory. Tailgunner are far from reinventing the wheel, however their energy is so genuine that you can’t but bounce and feel good to the tune of their performance. It is old school heavy metal played with no underlying theme or purpose, other than the wish to write metal that gets the audience moving and on board with them.
In addition, Tailgunner aren’t rushing themselves to get through the start to the finish of their record. One could say that, due to this being their debut studio work, they want fans to stew particularly in what they’ve created. However, this insistence against breakneck speed is so alleviating for I felt like I could go about my day listening to this record without feeling like I had to commit great swathes of myself to experiencing Guns For Hire. If I wanted to take some time inbetween playing this record, I had that freedom and choice to do so; the fact that I did not want to speaks volumes regarding Tailgunner’s heaps upon my attention. With every lick and drum beat and vocal intonation my engagement was thoroughly satisfied, and I received every turn of the songwriting with glorious glee. The band have this excellent middle ground, where their pace is nicely controlled but the intensity of their performance climbs to match it.
The vocal delivery is a refreshing find as well. More often that not, our modern helpings of classic metal vocals usually consist of deliveries drunk on high pitched soars and falsettos; Tailgunner instead champion the implementation of a much more grounded vocal performance that’s akin to how we ourselves may sound should a microphone be thrust into our faces. In this manner, the band bridge the illusory gap between audience and band for it doesn’t sound too greatly removed for how we ourselves could sound should we rise to the occasion. It also complements the band’s straightforward metal attack too, for Tailgunner don’t concern themselves with any elements of songwriting overtly superfluous. Their songwriting is heavy metal by the numbers and is far from anything you haven’t heard prior, yet their instrumentation and vocals bind together to break through the mould and help us throw away our preconceived thoughts, where we choose not to care if the band aren’t doing anything new. What matters is it sounds cool, and it feels real.
If the production amplified anything else, it managed to close in the walls surrounding this record whereby it’s soundscape is granted only a small window of escape. Therefore, when the band play and their songwriting changes up throughout the record’s duration, the audience isn’t finding itself at a loss as to where some instrumentation went or where the vocal impact has gone to. Very little is allowed the audacity to escape so what the band play, we receive. It’s also helped the drums to take on a taut and in-your-face aesthetic where every strike not only feels deliberate but, it hits you full on in the face. It’s all the more powerful since the drumming isn’t delving into patterns and approaches more aggressive than the songwriting needs it to be. It’s plain and simple playing, but the production and mixing turns it round into a constant punching match where the only target throughout is our face.
In conclusion, following a near nine minute epic, Tailgunner close out their debut studio work in wondrous victory for this is a stellar heavy metal record that lives up to every syllable it’s title purports. Guns For Hire is a fantastically fun and genuine experience that will have us returning for more time and again. As you listen through this record, you’ll find your engagement never wanes even though the band aren’t utilising anything too different through ten full songs, one after another. This record is an absolutely wondrous release for the British metal scene for not only does it demonstrate metal, in this retro galore, is still kicking but, new bands are coming through the woodwork and are still capable at shaking things up with fresh writing to keep the energy and vitality alive for future generations. I had an utter blast with Guns For Hire and it’d worth mentioning the band play London later this year. Tailgunner are worth keeping an eye on.