ENFORCER - Nostalgia

May 24, 2023, 11 months ago

(Nuclear Blast)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 8.0

review heavy metal enforcer

ENFORCER - Nostalgia

Very early on, it's evident Enforcer learned from the experimental misstep of Zenith and returned to the no frill, hyper aggression, OTT speed metal that initially ingratiated them to the world. Not a piano in sight. That said, sort of surprising the disc doesn't open with one of the blistering pace setters. Following the 37 second, mood setting instrumental opener, "Armageddon", the ‘80s pseudo-electric drum sounds of "Unshackle Me" kicks in. The first of a few relationship based lyrics (pining for the girl, unshackle my heart), Olof Wikstrand (guitar/voice) still possess a stratospheric (falsetto) register, but at least, for this one, the tempo and vocal highs are kept (relatively) in check.

The gloves (and acceleration governor) come off for pre-release single "Coming Alive". Wikstrand unleashes the sustained piercing wail too! Only "Heartbeats" cracks the four minute barrier, most barely surpassing 3:00. Speaking of the subtle, Dio-esque, acoustic begun "Heartbeats", which is essentially a power ballad, it retains a legit metallic quotient, courtesy of the spirited guitar break in the final third. The singer adds octaves as the rapidity increases. A few foreboding notes, during taxiing, but "Demon" quickly takes flight down the runway, An infectious groove, fleet fingers pick up speed as it proceeds. Can hear the shouted word "demon" in the chorus being an audience call & response moment, live. Shifting from fourth to fifth gear, "Kiss Of Death" is in overdrive, from the onset.

The title cut (for which there's a video of the singer traipsing through snowy landscapes) is the lone, full blown ballad. Opening strings recall a harpsichord, as the melody meanders along, like a non-Christmas Trans-Siberian Orchestra track, followed by the equally TSO-inspired guitar workout. The big production is the final nod to more erudite/refined structures, as the remaining half dozen are, essentially, a more traditional race to the end. Mid-tempo "No Tomorrow" sees Wikstrand's voice soaring on what is essential a brief respite in the aural onslaught. Same can't be said of the pacing in riff happy "At The End Of The Rainbow". While not a full bore speedsters, it shuffles along with high altitude punctuation from the frontman.

"Metal Supremacia" still red-lines. The tune is entirely sung in Spanish, an obvious thank you to their South American supporters. Mild, compared to the Zenith, as there was a complete Spanish language version of that last album. Fodder from the American tour, "White Lights In The USA" might not be the definitive speed metal cut, but has the same carefree attitude as early Motley Crue: at just 2:41, in length. Initially "Keep The Flame Alive" toys with the idea of exploring a jazzy, Zenith vibe, but just as quickly, Enforcer recoil the tether, keeping things on the straight and narrow. "When The Thunder Roars" is subtitled (Crossfire), which is about all one needs to know, the dual six-strings waging warfare, shooting volley after volley of rapid fired notes.

Have a feeling the album title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to those fans (like myself), longing for the "old days." If so, guilty as charged and thanks for caring about us. Here's hoping that successfully revisiting "the past" doesn't mean moving "on" from here.

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