ENFORCED – War Remains
RELEASE YEAR: 2023
BAND URL: https://enforced.bandcamp.com/
When I reviewed At The Walls²⁰¹⁹ (5/6), the debut album from the Virginian thrash crossover metallers I called it a mix of co-precipitated aluminium salts of naphthenic and palmitic San Francisco Bay Area thrash acids with crossover hardcore petrol of Cro-Mags, Biohazard and Hatebreed for the most volitile devastation since the Vietnam War. While I bemoan having missed the follow up, Kill Grid²⁰²¹, judging from this, their third full length War Remains released at the end of April, I am giddy to report that Enforced is still that and deadlier than ever. The compositions the founders Knox Colby (vocals), Will Wagstaff (guitars) and Zach Monahan (guitars) concoct with Ethan Gensurowsky (2018-bass) and Alex Bishop (2018-drums), by now permanent band members, are still reminiscent of Slayer’s 2nd through 5th albums to the extent that were someone to look for Slayer’s successor Enforced would be my first pick, but now the songs are smarter, more engaging and, believe it or not, different from one another.
Although there’s no doubt that the title track, which starts with a riff somewhere between Obituary’s “Sickness” and Slayer’s “Live Undead”, is the supreme track on the album (always a good thing in my book) perfect with its insightful thought-provoking message of “God above, man below” where “olive branches build the arrows” and “bloody streets ’til no tommorrow” which “we call progress”, it is built on the excellence of the preceding “Inner Self” Sepulturic “Hanged By My Hand” and early Lamb Of Godly and Deathly “Avarice” with such relentless speed, skill and technical prowess as if Enforced was aiming at outclassing Slayer’s Reign In Blood, and is followed by just as fantastic “Nation Of Fear” where “no one’s the person that you think” and the riveting Obituarish and Biohazardic practically death metal closer “Empire” with a clear stylistic nod to Slayer’s Hell Awaits opening cut.
While I cannot say that the remaining tracks are bad (in fact, none of them are worth less than 5/6 points) some just don’t seem to rise above that very good standard, especially the first two cuts, “Aggressive Menace” and “The Quickening” and I feel like more twists and turns would have taken War Remains to a higher level, especially since 33:44 wrapping up 10 tracks feels a little short even for such uncompromising music as Enforced serves. But make no mistake, these Virginians, who come from the same Richmond Lamb Of God hails from, are already great but should and will be even greater real soon and, finally, you should help make it sooner.