Tailgunner – Guns for Hire (Fireflash Records)

Friday, 14th July 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

Not surprising that this UK outfit Tailgunner named themselves after the opening track from Iron Maiden’s 1990 No Prayer for the Dying album. It’s evident that the traditional metal scene still contains plenty of young blood pumping through its veins, as these musicians arrived in 2018 determined to put their own stamp on this style. After issuing a series of singles, the Crashdive EP came out independently in the summer of 2022, leading to the interest of Atomic Fire Records sublabel Fireflash to scoop up the band, adding six new songs to those preexisting four to release the debut full-length Guns for Hire. And what a scorcher listeners have in store for them here.

The ideal combination of rebel rousing riffs, soaring vocal melodies, blazing musicianship-filled passages, and bass/drum interaction that supports the foundation while also injecting that extra energetic uplift present themselves front and center throughout these ten tracks. Circular guitar runs at varied paces possess the right gallop/stomping measures – heroic in measures yet equally as captivating as the supreme vocalization that takes place through the commanding melodies of Craig Cairns (also a part of Induction). Whether it’s at mid-tempo anthem pacing for “Revolution Scream” or slightly faster in Riot/Enforcer-ish atmosphere with “Warhead”, the layers of hooks come at you fast, furious, with no surrender. Many will think of classic late 80’s Iron Maiden during some of the more advanced instrumental passages of “Crashdive”, where bassist Thomas Hewson forms a triad harmony prism with the twin axe attack. And when you need an epic closer to seal the deal for setting off on a journey to another world, look no further than the nine-minute plus “Rebirth” – compelling riffs, versatile verses, a calmer instrumental sequence that leads into more progressive transitions to a fitting, soaring conclusion.

The UK scene is quite diverse in the modern era – but there’s nothing wrong with Tailgunner flying the flag for classic, traditional heavy metal to the current marketplace desiring newcomers to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of those originators. Guns For Hire proves that British heavy metal will never die – an impressive debut that hopefully leads to a prosperous, productive career for the band.

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