I’ve been an ENFORCER fan for four or five years. They’ve been on the Swedish music scene about fifteen years. They have made several US tours, which will include 2019 (oh yes, I have a ticket). Current listed members are Olof Wikstrand (lead vocals and guitar), Jonas Wikstrand (skins), Tobias Lindkvist (bass) and Jonathan Nordwall (guitar). I ran across them from a friend I knew in the former CRUCIFIED BARBARA fan club. They suggested that I listen to a tune called “Mesmerized by Fire”. After experiencing it I specifically remember thinking, “Why is there not metal like this in the US?” Scandinavia in general has some of the best metal in the world….along with some of the most unexciting.
New album Zenith comes out April 26th on Nuclear Blast Records. The last one, From Beyond was in 2015. I didn’t find it as appealing as the previous efforts, but it had some decent songs. Four years is a long time to go between albums, so I was curious. Hitting us first is “Die For the Devil”. A catchy riff with heavy power chords and some tasty solos, ENFORCER in it’s traditional way, introduces its satanic/metal blend. It’s more of a subdued tune than what I was hoping for, but not a bad start. Next up is “Zenith of the Black Sun”, giving a more traditional Nordic slow battle marching feel. Then hitting the “charge” button, they surge into attack mode. Good melodies and tasty guitar work. Actually, I would have rather seen this open the disc.
“Searching For You” gives back that kick ass, in your face, crushing juggernaut that is ENFORCER. It’s the sound that made me want to go race a dragster at 300 mph. “Regrets” is more melodic with very non-traditional piano and unanticipated keyboard. “The End of a Universe” I was hoping would pick up the pace a bit and get us back to that fast speed metal of years past, but alas, no. I think by the time I got here, it definitely became obvious that the band has made some sort of transformation from lightning fast speed metal to more melodic efforts. It’s almost as if the band is searching to appeal to a different audience. I think that is more so evident in “Sail On”. The music is well composed, but something at this point has changed. That dark and heavy sound just isn’t there.
“One Thousand Years of Darkness” had some promising moments….but then the unneeded power metal keyboard chords. What the? Guys? Ok, let’s try “Thunder and Hell”. Hell yeah!!! There’s that ENFORCER speed metal I’ve been waiting for. I was sort of disappointed that I had to wait this long to hear that old sound that I love from these guys. This is one of THE reasons I love this band. Fast as hell rhythm and dual solos shatter your skull to pieces. Staying with that traditional dark speed metal, “Forever We Worship the Dark” comes in. Taking it back a notch, it portrays the common satanic message, but it is so melodic, it seems like a contradiction. It’s a bit confusing.
And finally in last position on the album is “Ode to Death”. Not really sure what to say about this track. Not bad, but it’s obviously an experimental fork in their musical writing. Quite honestly, as one fan, I’m not that fond of the more melodic efforts, but I definitely prefer the sonic boom of the powerful and traditional speed metal that’s made these guys an icon in Sweden.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Zenith of the Black Sun”, “Thunder and Hell”, “Searching For You”
-MARK “\M/ETAL \M/ESSIAH” EHRLICH