ENFORCER – “If People Say We Are ‘Old-School,’ They Have No Clue What Metal Is About”
January 30, 2016, 2 years ago
“It’s a total outlet of aggression and energy. Hell on earth. We rip it as much as we possibly can.” That’s how vocalist/guitarist Olof Wikstrand describes an Enforcer live show. The Swedes have gained that opportunity to showcase that ripping energy on the stages of North America with a co-headlining tour with Warbringer. Wikstrand is indeed a firecracker on the stage and has the pipes to shatter glass. He certainly punctuates the “force” in Enforcer, but offstage he speaks quietly, calmly, but exudes confidence. Proud of the metal path he’s forged since the band’s 2008 debut, Into The Night, the Blonde Banshee plows ahead and scoffs at criticism that Enforcer lives in the ‘80s and doesn’t push the metal genre forward.
“I think we do actually”, is how Wikstrand responded to that point and disagrees with being a throwback band. “’They don’t sound original, they sound ‘80s’ and shit like this, but I don’t see that at all. I don’t worship the ‘80s or anything like that, I just like good music, I like good sounds, and I like good attitude. It’s just something that’s been lost recently, so I don’t see this as any tribute to the ‘80s, and shit like that, I hate that. If people think that, they’re just too stuck up with modern shit music and modern shit attitudes in the music business that’s been revolving around the business for over 20 years, and if people say we are ‘old-school’, they have no clue what metal is about," concludes a calm and cool Wikstrand.
But what about those modern bands Wikstrand was referring too? Wikstrand wanted to know what was popular in North America. He named Lamb Of God and cited In Flames, while I told him bands like Avenged Sevenfold and Five Finger Death Punch were the ones on top of the mountain. “That’s simply not metal. What we do, we play metal,” the Swede matter-of-factly states.
The unoriginal criticism prompted me to mention about how the new wave of thrash that erupted in the mid-2000s with bands like Municipal Waste, Warbringer, Evile, and Bonded By Blood were met with those connotations Enforcer has to deal with. “Yeah people say ‘I’d rather listen to the originals’, but when you ask people what the originals are, they can’t mention anything,” replies Wikstrand. “Our style is unique enough to not be compared to anything else. Just because we’re mainly inspired by older bands, it doesn’t make us an old band. I usually say we are the most modern band ever, and I think we are.”
With all the talk of living in the past, there’s also a future. Giants like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest won’t be around forever, and the forefathers of Black Sabbath have declared it’s The End with one final tour. Does Enforcer see themselves as the future face of metal? “I think we already are,” replies a steadfast and confident Wikstrand. “The old bands are getting old, you know? They’re already old. Heavy metal is music for the youth.”
Enforcer isn’t the only heavy metal act making waves as fellow Swedes Tribulation have also created buzz with their new album Children Of The Night. Sweden has a wealth of quality metal with other traditional acts like RAM and Portrait, along with Ghost and Sabaton. I’m not sure what’s in the water in Sweden, but there must something magical with the goldmine of acts coming out of there. Wikstrand cites Sweden as having “a rich musical culture,” but getting more specific, what about these Tribulation guys that Enforcer is closely related with?
Tribulation guitarist Jonathan Hultén designed the cover art to Enforcer’s 2013 album Death By Fire and Wikstrand was part of the initial formation of Tribulation in 2001. Wikstrand is proud of the fact that both bands have found success and were able to make it and how Tribulation was able to add new layers to a death metal foundation.
“I’m happy that we can have two bands from the same tiny city (Arvika, Sweden) with a clique of people that made it this far. I’m happy that people pick up what we do as well and they’ve gone through some changes and in the death metal days, there’s not much you can do in that box. They made it out of the box in a really strong way, both artistically very good and very commercial with huge commercial potential.”
With a wealth of traditional acts like RAM, Portrait, Cauldron, Striker, and other bands gaining notoriety, it’s easy to think that Olof and the rest guys look to do better than their peers and try to one-up them, but that is not the case as the Savage Swede simply replies; “Music is music and is nothing you can compete in. I think we’re pretty secure in what we do as are the bands you mentioned earlier. It’s never been a competition and I never felt jealous of bands making it. Most of them are doing it for a reason because some are lucky with what’s trendy. There’s nothing I can do about it, but we are doing what we want to do.”
Even though the speed metallers are entrenched in this North American run and will be heading to Latin America as well, they have some ideas and “rough sketches for new music”, but Olof stresses “quality over quantity.” Enforcer is in the midst of their biggest tour ever and Wikstrand says the band “wants to continue the momentum” and that would mean releasing a new record.
Wikstrand is a determined individual focused on continuing to enhance the Enforcer name and is undeniably appreciative of the people who support the band. Olof concludes, “I thank all the people who supported us over the years and the fans are the reason why we’re here.”