2021’s Kill Grid saw Enforced burst through from the underground in spectacular style. Their sophomore release grabbed those who love Thrash and Crossover Metal, spun them around the room and left them in a sweaty heap on the floor. Now vocalist Knox Colby, guitarists Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan, bassist Ethan Gensurowsky and drummer Alex Bishop return with their third album, War Remains, and it might just be the best yet.
Enforced – War Remains (Century Media)
Release Date: 28 April 2023
Words: Paul Hutchings
As you’d expect, this is not for the faint-hearted. Visceral riffage, guttural roars and snarling aggression are the key components of Enforced’s music. It’s a formula that works well and needs very little adjustment.
Opening with the pulverising blast of War Remains, it’s evident that the only thing Enforced have done differently since Kill Grid is upped the power and ferocity. It’s one brutal slap to the face, with driving drumming, frantic guitars slicing through the air and Colby’s verbal delivery an aural assault on the senses. A crunching slower start quickly gives way to the higher tempo that has seen the Richmond outfit cause carnage around the globe.
They retain the switch between chugging riffage and fast-paced Thrash throughout the album, using the chainsaw guitar to great effect. The songs are fast, generally short, with only two over four minutes in length, and effective.
Although Enforced’s general thrust is to melt the skin on your face, they do slow it down into a headbangers paradise on occasion. Nation Of Fear is one such number, slower and brooding whilst the subject matter remains serious and on point.
The same can’t be said of Ultra Violence, which is one of the nastiest songs in this raging torrent. It rips along at 100mph, and you can see the pits erupting in your mind as you listen.
War Remains also demonstrates how the band are evolving as players. Their Slayer influences are still evident, but they are moving slightly further away from the Thrash legends and closer to their own defined sound. The lead work is blistering yet comes with a bluesy feel that lurks underneath.
Savageness is the name of the game on the last single, Starve, another bruiser that builds, utilising their combined power in the first half of the song to build atmosphere before it erupts, quickly tipping over boiling point in animalistic style.
Enforced continue to retain that sinister brutality which has become a trademark of their sound. The evil brewing base of The Quickening gives way to more driving Thrash whilst the tempo is relentless on the chilling Hanged By My Hand.
War Remains is lean, carrying no fat whatsoever. It’s just ten tracks that hit hard and move on. They also leave a giant boot print on the back of the brain, one that demands you dive back in for another play. There’s punishing power throughout, with enough energy to power a city for months.
Ultimately, it’s a slice of ferocity that establishes Enforced’s already rising reputation. This is an album that is likely to be on the playlist for months. And I’m very happy about that.