By Jay Broderick - Sometimes, great shit happens! Sometimes, life gives you a gem that transports you back to "the good old days", and let's face it, we all love our youth. I'll wager that most people want to go back to a point in time in the past, even if just for a moment, to re-live the greatness that was. And it doesn't have to be great to anybody else. We just know that it brings us a fond reflection.
Not that we are not content where we are. Ultimately, we need to find our happiness in the present, because the past is gone, and the future is unpredictable at best. Nonetheless, a trip back would be cool as hell! Sometimes, the past is brought to us by some magical means, like music. Usually, I'll hear a track that will bring me back to a specific moment in time. Like when I hear Savatage's Hall of the Mountain King (which by the way, is one of the greatest albums of the 1980s), I'm instantly brought back to January 9, 1988 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Savatage opened the show for Megadeth and headliner Dio. It was the first time any of us had heard this band. My buddies and I all walked away saying "WOW! They were fucking amazing!!" and we hit up the record store to grab the vinyl release.
But sometimes, this musical power of time travel is brought to us by something completely new. What an insane phenomenon! Something we have never heard before, yet we know it all too well. It makes us happy!
Why do I start this specific new music review with such nostalgia? Well, let's see...
Enforced is a Thrash Metal band based out of Richmond, Virginia (by the way, the drive through the Virginia (and West Virginia) hills is my absolute favourite driving experience of all time). The five piece consists of Knox Colby on vocals, Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan on guitars, Ethan Gensurowsky on bass and Alex Bishop on drums. The band was formed in 2016 when the 2 guitarists sent Colby a few tracks to lay vocals down on. The remaining 2 members were soon added and the newly formed band released two 3-song demos in 2017. It was these demos, and the shows the band played around this time, that had metal fans buzzing.
The band released their first full length At the Walls in 2019, followed by the second release Kill Grid in 2021. Kill Grid was a more refined effort as the band focused on being perfectionists. A mindset change was established for the band's 3rd release, and on April 28, 2023, the world will come to hear the "balls to the wall" effort for War Remains, through Century Media Records.
The opening track "Aggressive Menace" starts with a lead that immediately puts a smile on my face. Seconds later, once the beat from the drums and bass come in, I'm feeling pretty gassed. The riffs on the opening 50 seconds are raw and menacing as promised by the title of the track. I'm a little reserved as I await the vocals. There's a lot of melodic metal bands in the past decade+ which is great in its own realm. But for me, nothing says hardcore, thrash metal like a gravelly voice, and once Colby comes in vocally at the 55 second mark, I know I'm listening to something special, and familiar here.
"The Quickening" continues the torrid pace, and I'm transported back some 35-40 years. It's at this point, that I realize the music is stripped down to the studs, nasty and completely aggressive, just like the good ol' days.
The 3rd track is one of the standout songs on this recording. "Hanged By My Hand" is a headbanger's dream. The "Aowwwww" at the 40 second mark sets the stage for 3 minutes and 14 seconds of pure metal madness. The beat and the rhythm of this one is the epitome of the genre that is being laid out in all it's glory. Once again, the vocals are coarse and angry sounding. The frantic guitar solo halfway through is the cherry on top of this thrash metal sundae! The track ends as fast as it started, with no drawn out 7 minutes of nonsense. It's hard-cutting aggression at its finest.
The album's title track is the longest song on the recording at 4:12, but the track bulldozes through at a blistering tempo. The track is about the reality that war and peace are actually one in the same. If you want to get a little deeper with your music, it gives the listener something to think about. But if you just want to thrash out to the music, the track has you covered there as well.
Another deeply meaningful song is "Mercy Killing Fields". Knox Colby shares that the song is about dealing with the loss of his cousin in 2021. Colby shares the sad story about his cousin who was hospitalized due to an illness, and was not expected to come out of it. As if by miracle, she got better, and was released after a few days. Tragically, a terrible fall shortly after her release ended her life. The events left a ton of unanswered questions for the family.
The rest of the album smashes through speed and sound barriers. At just over 33 minutes total run-time, the album is very aggressive from beginning to end. It's everything a thrash/hardcore album should be, bringing elements of the old school glory days in the early 1980s, yet brings something completely different in terms of most of the metal that has been popularized in the 21st Century.
Strap yourselves in... this one is going to blow your brains out!
1. Aggressive Menace
2. The Quickening
3. Hanged by My Hand
5. War Remains
6. Mercy Killing Fields
7. Nation of Fear