The Metal Mayan
Enforced - War Remains (Century Media)
Among the many intertwined branches of the heavy metal family tree, crossover thrash is often considered the offspring of hardcore punk and thrash metal by metal historians. Combining the fist pumping aggression and beatdowns of the former with the relentless speed of the latter, this sub-genre aims to turn any concert venue into a warzone of stage divers, two-steppers, and circle pits.
Carrying the torch first wielded by bands such as D.R.I. and Suicidal Tendencies, Richmond, Virginia's Enforced does their predecessors proud with their third release, War Remains. Clocking in at just over half an hour, each of the ten songs on album clamps down like a hungry beast and drags listeners into a howling metal abyss.
Beginning with "Aggressive Menace", the song lives up to its name coming down like a avalanche, burying listeners in gnashing guitars, pounding drums and bass, and the fierce barks of vocalist Knox Colby. Setting the tone for intense two stepping, "The Quickening" oozes vibes reminiscent of the early 90's hardcore scene: the days when shows were so aggressive, being outside of the pit did not guarantee you were safe.
For those looking for a little more groove and double bass work, drummer Alex Bishop delivers both with impeccable cymbal and kick drum work on "Avarice". While certainly holding down the crown from the hardcore side, this track and several others feature immense guitar solos, sure to satisfy any thrasher's palette.
Dialing in some tones akin to old school Morbid Angel and Leprosy era Death, "Mercy Killing Field" is lyrically inspired by the passing of Knox Colby's cousin. The vocalist recounted that his cousin had almost been taken off of life support while in a hospital, but made a recovery and returned home before ultimately succumbing to an accident not long after. "It really made me question," stated Colby, "should we have shown her mercy when she was comfortable, or still hold out for a glimmer of hope that everything will turn out OK?"
Continuing on the line between thrash, hardcore, and death metal, "Starve" and closing song "Empire" combine the best of all three sub-genres into a chaotic masterpiece. Having formed just seven short years ago and already boasting tours with Obituary, Municipal Waste, and Exhumed, there is much to be excited about for the Mid-Atlantics rising thrashers.
The Metal Mayan review
Sometimes a cup of coffee or a can of Monster just can't give the right rush of adrenaline one needs on any given day. Should that be the case today, one or two songs off War Remains will definitely succeed where caffeine failed. Growing up in the New York Metropolitan area, exposure to bands such as Madball, Sworn Enemy, All Out War and Agnostic Front came to me at a young age. To that point, the groove and heaviness Enforced channels reminds me of the greatest moments from all of these bands.
But of course, as a death metal and black metal enthusiast for nearly two decades, I find myself craving an over the top solo over razor sharp rhythm guitars. Here again, Enforced steps up to the plate to deliver ripping guitar work that fans of these genres will definitely enjoy. The result, in short, is one of the finest thrash-crossover albums of the last decade.
While Knox Colby mentioned that the album is geared more towards thrash, it is done so in a way that the hardcore components are not forgotten or understated. I certainly look forward to see battle vest clad thrashers meet snap brim wearing hardcore heavy hitters in the pit when Enforced comes through next time.
Visit your local record store and pick up a copy of War Remains, out 28 April on Century Media.
Advanced copy courtesy of Breaking the Law PR and Century Media
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