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War Remains


Album Reviews: ENFORCED War Remains

8.5 Reviewer

It never gets old, does it? Trends come and go, but there's always something about a blistering guitar riff over breakneck pounding drums that triggers a primal urge to headbang. Enforced are some of the newest rising stars of the underground thrash world. War Remains will secure a place for their logo on many self-respecting battle vests this year.

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Enforced haven't taken many breaks since their formation in 2017. They've released two demos, three records and toured relentlessly, scoring slots alongside legendary bands like Morbid Angel, Obituary and Exhumed. It's easy to see why Enforced fit in alongside these older acts. Their style is deeply indebted to the early death metal albums of the late 80s and early 90s, right down to the grainy black-and-white album covers that would look so good on a cassette tape. Listening to them rage their way through War Remains, visions of five decades of shows will flash before your eyes.

At the heart of this kind of metal is the guitars. Lots of bands can hammer the low note while playing blastbeats, but if it's not backed up by serious shredding skills then the point is often moot. Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan rise to the occasion. They knock the energy up several levels every time they hit in sync, channeling the spirit of Chuck Schuldiner on "Starve". They also know when to slow it down and let the synchronicity be its own heaviness, as they do in the middle of "Ultra-Violence". On "Hanged By My Hand" the shadow of Slayer's twin axemen looms large again.

Singer Knox Colby has the perfect rasp that's between Tom Araya's shout and a full death metal growl. He keeps things on pace, never stealing the spotlight from the rampaging speed storm his bandmates are unleashing. War Remains runs on the short side at just over thirty minutes. But it's packed with more good moments than some bands write in their entire career. Combined with Enforced's last two albums, they are starting to build a setlist that could stand toe-to-toe with any of their influences.

Modern crossover thrash is made up of two parts grit and three parts riff. Enforced have already proved they've got the grit and now they have the riffs too. No one is going to accuse them of breaking the mold or taking the style in new directions, but that's not always what the fans want. Enforced are traditionalists, playing from an old rulebook and taking every lesson to heart. They definitely lean harder on the death metal side of things than thrash at times, but always with enough restraint to hold them back. It's not easy to reach the level Enforced do on tracks like "Aggressive Menace" or "Avarice". Beyond the technical difficulty, it's hard to come up with fresh sounding ideas in a genre this established. But Enforced somehow manages to.

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If all those tours are any indicator, Enforced are strong contenders for the passing of the torch. They'll light up any underground venue they come into contact with. Any doubters should be silenced by the tracks from War Remains. Third time is often the charm, and Enforced have built on the progress they made on Kill Grid and At The Walls. There aren't many crossover thrash acts running with this kind of energy these days.

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