Review Summary: A flawed, yet irresistible herald of things to come.
Who doesn't like a good slab of pure, traditional heavy metal? The boys from Enforcer sure do, and that is exactly what they serve up in their 2008 debut, Into The Night
Formed in 2004 in Arvika, Sweden, by the Wikstrand brothers (singer Olof and drummer Jonas), Enforcer have, to this day remained faithful to their style of choice: melodic heavy/speed metal in the vein of Holy Mother, Destiny's End, Helstar, and numerous others more or less well-known bands. What the foursome presents on Into The Light
is far from innovative, but certainly shows enough promise to make Enforcer a name to reckon with in the present-day metal scene.
To be sure, not everything about this album is perfect. Throughout its nine songs, the group still incurs in many of the flaws that plague most amateur bands, namely repetition (about half the songs on this album sound like varyingly appealing derivations of each other), a slightly sub-par vocalist, and the occasional overused chorus or bridge (such as in the otherwise excellent title track). However, they more than make up for these shortcomings with their competent songwriting skills and a tendency to write irresistibly predictable riffs and choruses, which will have any self-respecting metalhead bobbing and shouting along.
The musical highlight of Enforcer is undoubtedly their string work. Guitarist Adam Zaers is, as noted, capable of delivering derivative, but also irresistible riffs and solos, which sometimes border on a more modern power metal sound, but mostly stay within the confines of traditional heavy metal, as it was understood in the 80s. Bass player Joseph Tholl, on the other hand, has a Steve Harris approach to his instrument which instantly makes him the standout performer on the album, filling every song with interesting, often dissonant bass runs which sometimes lend a slightly proggy tint to the band's sound. In a style where the bass is so often butchered or forgotten, it is good to see a band other than Iron Maiden give the instrument some credit.
Sadly, the founding brothers themselves leave a bit more to be desired. Singer Olof Wikstrand is capable of a passable impression of James Rivera or Bob Mitchell, but still falls prey to that virus, common among underground heavy metal vocalists, which condemns them to always sound slightly sub-par. As for drummer Jonas, he does very little that any other drummer wouldn't do, and it takes him until track five to show that he can play anything other than "thumping, driving beat". Still, none of the two detract too much from the group's overall sound, although they do leave one wondering how much better it could have been if they were slightly superior.
However, the group's biggest asset lies not in its performers, but in their songwriting skills. As noted, the tracks on this album sometimes fall prey to repetition, but the overall standard is high enough to keep any metalhead satisfied and craving for more. Sure, there are a couple of weak moments - On The Loose
, the initially clumsy Scream Of The Savage
- but they are more than made up for by the album's standouts. And what standouts! Speed Queen
is the kind of track you can't possibly not
headbang to, while City Lights
, while sounding a bit too close to Iron Maiden instrumentals, is pulled off beautifully, with the group exploring several different moods and managing to keep it interesting throughout its six-minute duration. Rounding up the standouts - and the album - is the irresistible Evil Attacker
, another tasty combination of traditional metal riffing, driving rhythms and an appealing chorus. Altogether, these moments - along with other, clearly above-average ones such as Black Angel
or Mistress From Hell
- help make up for the slightly more pedestrian tracks, and help ensure that Into The Light
remains worthy of a listen by any open-minded retro-metalhead.
If you're craving a slab of good, old-fashioned heavy metal, then, by all means check out Enforcer. The strenghts presented on this album would only be amplified in their sophomore outing, Diamonds
, making the group one of the acts to follow in the modern underground metal scene. Heads up, then, headbangers - it's not every day that a group this good comes along.