Enforcer – From Beyond (Nuclear Blast)Sunday, 8th March 2015
We’ve witnessed a resurgence globally of classic heavy metal and its offshoots of the power and speed variety. Maybe these things work cyclically, as younger generations take old school inspiration and desire to establish their own creative output. Sweden’s Enforcer has been one of the benchmark acts, bursting on the scene with their 2008 Into the Night debut and proving that they could channel the musicianship of Maiden or Priest and the speed and unbridled energy of early Metallica into an infectious, melodic cocktail. Their follow ups continued to elevate their brand to headlining heights (Diamonds my personal fave) – so for album four will From Beyond push Enforcer into an elite class beyond their New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal contemporaries?
One trick ponies struggle to keep momentum because when it comes to establishing legacy, bands need to grow in dynamic ability while not forsaking the tools that got them attention in the first place. Opener “Destroyer” and “Hell Will Follow” for instance are two speed riff rampant, high pitched vocal arrangements that long-time Enforcer followers will crack open six-packs and air guitar in unison to. On the other hand certain material has this deeper level of classic appreciation, even in smaller doses such as the beginning lead break for the more melodic hard rockin’ “The Banshee”, where guitarist/vocalist Olof Wikstrand and fellow axe slinger Joseph Tholl channel their best Criss Oliva meets Murray/Smith influences. The quieter moments within “Farewell” for instance also develop some Megadeth nuances, while the two 6 minute epics “Below the Slumber” and “Mask of Red Death” explore differences in terms of a more catchy Mercyful Fate or Accept attitude – something that I felt Enforcer needed to do to prove they can be musically muscular without always have to play at warp speed.
The lead work grabs your attention in different back and forth phrasing, Olof continues to still shoot for the sky in his naturally high register, while the rhythm section can add a little bit of groove variety to the proceedings. And for those who always dug Enforcer instrumentals, the 4:32 “Hungry They Will Come” should bring out all Transylvanian/Ides of March river rats to the surface. As a result, From Beyond will be another benchmark release for the genre – and ensure Enforcer a long, healthy career even when this wave of popularity fades.