Review by Rick Ossian
Stockholm‘s Enforcer are truly a blast from the past. Sounding like something bleeding NWOBHM from their pores (think early Maiden meets Riot’s Fire Down Under and you will be close), these gents have roused my musical attention more than most in recent years. Every track on this latest offering is filled with speedy hooks, rousing vocals and incredibly tight instrumentation. If you are anything like me when it comes to Metal taste, then you should enjoy these boys’ work immensely! Beginning in 2005, Enforcer have, counting splits and demos, come at us with 10 pieces of work up to this point, most recently being 2013’s Death By Fire. Their personnel is as follows: Olof Wikstrand (vocals, guitars), Jonas Wikstrand (drums), Joseph Tholl (guitars) and Tobias Lindkvist (bass).
Opener Destroyer begins life with an absolutely wicked drum roll/guitar blast intro. I remembered saying ‘holy crap!’ to myself a couple of times as I encountered the aural assault and the otherwise profound assault on my senses. This is full-tilt boogie here, folks, and the vocal delivery is just as intense as the jams. The rhythm is double or even triple-time! This is very speedy stuff – I dare you to just try and keep up on your air instruments. A slight shift in operations (1:45) leads us into a nice guitar solo (2:00), and a killer finish finds the boys firing on all cylinders. This tune WILL make you want to stand up and jam out!
Undying Evil is another speedy slammer, but back down just slightly a notch from our forerunner. This ‘creature of night‘ is obviously a scary one! This track features a cool core riff, plus a couple of leads (2:00 and 2:40). There is some duelling going on here, almost a battle back and forth between guitars – very good stuff! The two-and-a-half minute mark finds us stopping on another dime for another slight shift, then before we know it, it’s over! Sad but true, so moving right along, then…
The title track features a neat curling brief lead intro with drums and bass, then gallops off into Maiden territory for the core. There are melodic guitars and vocals during the refrain, and a couple more leads (1:35 and 2:00). A freaky, creepy wind takes us to the outro.
One With Fire is one of those sweet but WAY too short (just shy of three minutes) tracks, with a positively wicked opening riff and more of the double-time full-tilt boogie mentioned above. Again, there is a slight shift (1:45), then a couple of smatterings of lead (2:00 and 2:15). I also loved the drum and bass work on this one.
Below the Slumber is the longest track on offer here, and at almost six-and-a-half minutes, the only tune even close to its length (the other is the closer). A slow guitar intro with near-strained vocals (think Kix or Krokus, perhaps) starts things off, and the all-too-familiar Maiden-esque gallop kicks in at about 50 seconds into the proceedings. There is a shift (1:15) into slow blues followed by a brief solo, then the vocals return shortly afterwards. Two minutes in we find the boys shifting upward and speeding things up a bit. Then there is an instrumental breakdown of sorts (2:25), followed by another solo (2:50). The vocals return again (3:20), then there are a couple more guitar solos. The stop-start timing of the drums provide some wicked rhythm work for us; complicated arrangements scarcely describes what is going on here. At 5:30 things finally begin to wind down, and at 5:45 we get a mellower guitar/vocal outro that sounds deceptively like the intro. A very complex piece of work but also very well executed!
Hungry They Will Come is an instrumental piece with a sweet guitar intro and that ubiquitous Maiden-like gallop. However often we hear that style of rhythm, however, rest assured that it is well-deployed and does NOT fall on deaf ears. If it were too much or too often I would grow bored with it quickly but I did not find myself doing that with these tracks. Again twists and turns abound, and there is another guitar solo (a pattern is emerging!), and we upshift back to the gallop before a double-time ending.
The Banshee finds everyone on board just killing it again, particularly Tobias (bass). Some great work on here as well. This is very fast, and tough to follow, but all together tight also. Some twin harmony lead guitar work included, and the ending kicks some serious arse!
Farewell starts off with those spooky wind FX again, but includes a nice lead to accompany the natural vibe. More wind and more galloping brings the main riff in at about 1:10, then the vocals kick in at a minute-and-a-half. I found myself again rather enjoying the drums (Jonas) and Tobias‘ bass work. This is pretty choice stuff.
Hell Will Follow finds us back to the no-holds-barred, flat-out boogie. I found myself wondering how they could possibly go that fast, but it IS actually happening. I’ve listened to the whole of this disc five or six times now, and still have problems believing my ears! The speed is is tightly controlled, but only just. Again, some rather intense vocal delivery, and some very sweet bass and drum work. More leads (1:25) and shifts (2:30), and another instrumental breakdown (2:45) into the fade-out, with another excellent ending.
The closing piece, Mask of Red Death, is another long(er) track, and at just over six minutes, very satisfying indeed. A chugging opening riff soon gives way to a slow but powerful jam with a kick-ass main riff and some bluesly vocals. The drums are pounding and the guitars are shifting and churning. At some points this is a decided blues track, but the ending brings us back to a deceptively almost pedestrian heavy rock classic form. Which, incidentally, brings us round to the end. If you are like me and only just ‘discovered’ Enforcer, it is once again time to plunder the back catalog! I would give these fellows more stars if I could…