Tailgunner / Debut Album Guns For Hire a Powerful Triumph of British Heavy Metal

Over recent months, there has been an increasing buzz around dynamic traditional Heavy Metal starlets Tailgunner. Having caught them live for the first time opening for KK’s Priest and Paul Di’Anno, I can testify to the exuberance of their approach and the quality of their performance. As a result, I was eagerly anticipating getting further acquainted with their debut album, Guns For Hire.

Tailgunner – Guns For Hire (Fireflash Records)

Release Date: Out Now

Words: Sophie James

Guns For Hire starts as it means to go on with rapid pounding drums and harmonious symphonic guitars that soar, swoop and feed off each other. The lyrics predominantly recount deeds, experiences and emotions brought on or lingering from the not-so-glorious theme of conflict.

Tailgunner - Guns For Hire album cover
Tailgunner – Guns For Hire – “Mission Accomplished”

The intro to Shadows of War is an overture, while its lyrics articulate what many veterans/survivors may feel. “A price paid in blood, buried in the mud. And each breath a knife in my lungs. All I see is fear. Let the end draw near.”

Set opener Guns For Fire follows at an accelerating rate of knots, and it is plainly evident why the number is chosen as such. Wearing their influences proudly, the opening brace are compositions that the likes of Saxon and, more prominently, Iron Maiden would be proud of.

The progression continues on the careering White Death. One to have heads banging vigorously at the barrier and possibly even a mosh pit forming further back. “So pray to your God and draw your last breath. When you hit the ground, you’ll know the White Death.”

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A mouthful, possibly but an instantly addictive tagline to holler along to nonetheless. One of the magnificently outstanding moments of the album.

Tailgunner - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton - 6 July 2023
Tailgunner – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

The insurrectional yet anthemic Revolution Scream has that kind of minor melody that immediately worms its way under your skin, perfectly complementing its predecessor.

Warmed up, so to speak, the listener is bludgeoned with a mid-album triple blast. While Futures Lost is arguably the swiftest number on the album, in this respect, it is difficult to differentiate between it and the ensuing New Horizons. One can understand the pairing. Warhead completes the triple salvo. A much more direct number, with its staccato rhythm hitting you like a machine gun.

Crashdive has a cadence that blends more contemporary rhythms with the timeless approach. Its lyrics transport you beneath the dark and deadly waters of the topic, with the various guitar parts representative of the adversaries in this deadly game of cat and mouse. A modern masterpiece, for sure.

Blood For Blood slows, not a lot, but sufficiently for greater assimilation of yet another anthemic romp.

The extended Intro of Rebirth generates visions of an armada of bombers preparing to take off for a venture into hell. While the theme veers elsewhere, musically, it is on a par with modern Maiden at their most prophetic and grandiose.

“As we travel on to the land of hopes and dreams, we watch the world at night as the prophecy unveils before our eyes.” Irrefutably the pinnacle piece that brings this highly polished and most impressive debut to a euphoric conclusion.

Tailgunner - KK's Steel Mill, Wolverhampton - 6 July 2023
Tailgunner – KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 6 July 2023. Photo: John Inglis/MetalTalk

What is unmistakable throughout this work, apart from the accomplished songwriting and dazzling playing, is the consistent intensity. Such is the drive and momentum, one is continually reaching for the repeat function to absorb its numerous intricacies. Even after repeated plays, it leaves you feeling breathless.

Furthermore, it all has a timeshift quality about it, transporting you back magnificently to the halcyon days of the late ’70s / early ’80s. Some of you who were there may long to experience those sensations once more.

For those that followed and recalled tales of legends from parents or even grandparents and wished you had been there, then this is just the album to do it.

The band promote themselves as “On a mission to put British Heavy Metal back on the map,” and if this release was meant to be a statement, then they are most definitely succeeding in that and can be extremely proud as a result.

Already, I am contemplative and highly expectant regarding their potential and what gems future works may hold, but for the time being, let’s just listen, absorb and rejoice in this release.

For Tailgunner and Episode 1, at least, it is certainly Mission Accomplished!

Guns For Hire

  1. Shadows of War
  2. Guns For Hire
  3. White Death
  4. Revolution Scream
  5. Futures Lost
  6. New Horizons
  7. Warhead
  8. Crashdive
  9. Blood For Blood
  10. Rebirth

Sleeve Notes

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