In Swedish HERE.
Release: February 1st
Nuclear Blast Records
Enforcer has been one of the leading bands within the new wave of traditional heavy metal ever since their debut album Into The Night (2008).
The band has since grown stronger and stronger, the album Diamonds (2010) has been hailed as one of the best metal albums in later years.
The only difference in the lineup on Death By Fire is that singer Olof Wikstrand also plays guitar, which he has done live with the band for a long time now.
Other than that, the old partners in crime Joseph Tholl (guitar), Tobias Lindkvist (bass) and Jonas Wikstrand (drums) are the ones providing the backbone for the Enforcer sound once again.
The album starts off with the atmospheric intro Bells Of Hades, where a piano and a church bell prepares the listener for the chaos that is Death Rides This Night.
Compared to Diamonds, the sound is fuller and the levels are much more balanced on this album. Also, the musicianship is even better than on previous releases.
You’d imagine that with all the success that the band has had, the hunger wouldn’t still be as raw and stinging. With Enforcer it’s the other way around.
Right from the beginning, the listener gets a furious punch in the face. The band is absolutely on top of their game and they’re playing on pure adrenalin.
It’s tighter than ever and really professional, but the sound is still just as raw as one could ever wish for it to be.
The vocals are mixed in a better and more aggressive way, but the main reason why the vocals sound better on Death By Fire is that Olof has taken his singing to another level on this one. He’s got more pressure and intensity in his voice and when he screams you can really hear him bringing up the force from deep down in the depths of hell.
The hooks are there and the chorus gets you immediately. Death Rides This Night is definitely one of the best songs of 2013, I can tell you that straight away.
While the guitars are ringing out, Run For Your Life starts with Jonas blasting the double bass and another classic riff being played. It shouldn’t be possible to put that many small melodies into the riffs as Joseph and Olof manage to, sometimes you wonder if they’re recording in slow motion.
They also spoil us rotten with a nice twin lead solo before the last chorus, and the song ends with a menacing riff that forces the rest of the band to switch into the highest gear to keep up with the raging guitars.
The album’s first single Mesmerized By Fire isn’t as fast as the previous two songs, but it doesn’t in any way lack the intensity they hold.
The first verse starts off as an explosion, it’s just so cool. Also, I’m really a huge fan of Joseph’s guitar melodies that appear out of nowhere in the middle of each verse.
The rythm of the song is really solid and relentless, it’s definitely a song that can compare to the classic bands of the genre who ruled the scene some 30 years ago.
The guitar harmonies in the beginning of Take Me Out Of This Nightmare show a darker side of Enforcer, it sounds more satanic but at the same time it fits right in. The galloping guitars lead the song towards the chorus that hopefully a lot of metalheads will get to sing along to this summer.
It hits me that Canadian band Cauldron would’ve killed to be the first ones to write this chorus, it would fit perfectly with their sound.
Enforcer has made it into somewhat of a tradition to include an instrumental track on each album, on Death By Fire this track is Crystal Suite.
It’s hard to choose a hero in this extremely well-played number, since unity is superior to individuality in the musical thinking of Enforcer, but you can not argue with the fact that Tobias is one of Sweden’s best bass players. His fingers are faster than lightning and I really admire his creativity and musical capacity for invention. All of you Steve Harris-fans out there will love the bass on Death By Fire, that’s one thing I can tell you for sure.
As a listener and audience member it’s always more difficult to embrace an instrumental track, as it doesn’t have lyrics that can help you dig deeper into it or a chorus to singing along with.
In these mere four minutes though, the band manages to utilise every possible way to keep the listener satisfied and entertained.
A distant picking on the guitar serves as the intro for the song Sacrificed, it gets closer and when the rest of the band comes in with a bang hell really breaks loose. Olof lets out the most shrilling scream of his carreer, it just goes like an arrow straight through your soul.
The riffs and the solos in this song remind me of some of my favorite thrash metal bands. Melody, rythm, aggression and energy in a perfect mix.
You could describe Enforcer with the expression ”controlled chaos”, as the only thing holding this fury (which is kind of a catch phrase for the whole album) in check is the enormous dose of musicianship found in this band.
Death By Fire has a running time of only 36 minutes, but I’m already feeling exhausted after this energetic assault that I’ve had the pleasure to experience.
If the album would’ve been any longer, I’m sure that it would be difficult to keep up the listener’s concentration. This album requires a lot from you, it’s so intense and there’s a million things going on at the same time. This is no child’s play, this is for real. When the needle leaves the wax, you should feel like you just got run over by a train.
Speaking of needles, the band has pointed out in their press release that the reason why the album is so short is because 36 minutes is the maximum amount of time that you can put on vinyl without losing sound quality.
Losing in sound quality would be a terrible thing, now that the band has found the perfect sound.
Silent Hour / The Conjugation is a song that breaks loose with guitars chopping away like chainsaws, there is no time to seek shelter when Enforcer switch into their most evil mood. The highlight is when the song goes down, and slowly rebuilds in the The Conjugation part. This part is also instrumental, but the music and the guitars really mediate tons of emotion and I can see great scenes and landscapes unfolding before my eyes just by opening up my mind.
It’s occult, spooky, classical and endlessly beautiful at the same time.
The album ends with the song Satan, a full throttle assault on the ear drums which reminds me a bit of the legendary Venom. Had they only been a bit more speed metal oriented, a lot tighter and somewhat more accomplished musicians, then they might have sounded like this. But of course, who wants to change anything about the legendary band that started it all?
The only thing that I’m not completely content with in this song is the chorus, I was expecting a bit more from a band that has such an enormous hit potential.
All in all it’s great to hear that Enforcer finally found their true sound in the studio. They’re true to their sound and they’re aware of what made them stand out in the first place. Despite this, they keep developing and renewing their sound with every album so that the listener won’t get bored.
Enforcer is one of the most important bands in the new wave of traditional heavy metal that started a couple of years ago, we mustn’t forget that they paved the way for many bands that followed after them.
When I first discovered Enforcer on MySpace back in 2008, before they released their first album, I was floored by their sound. I had never heard anything like it before.
Today it’s 2013 and I have once again been completely floored, this time by Death By Fire.
Best: Death Rides This Night and the furious hunger shown from the first to the last note.
Worst: The fact that they didn’t manage to find the perfect sound until now.
Writer: Viktor Skatt