From Beyond

Written by: EW on 13/03/2015 18:27:00

I begin off-topic: my first two listens to Enforcer’s new album, "From Beyond" coincided with two of the most delayed and frustrating train journeys into work I’ve ever had, so you’ll excuse me if my initial impressions of this excellent record were diluted by circumstance. Thankfully things have improved considerably since (my appreciation of the Swedes’ fourth album, not the London rail network) and I can confidently declare "From Beyond" solidifies Enforcer back where they belong, right near the top of the current heavy/speed metal tree, after the somewhat disappointing "Death in Fire" from a couple of years ago. That, of course, was the successor to the majestic "Diamonds", and a useful barometer for measuring the developments of the band over the past few years.

Whereas "Diamonds" leant more on to the band’s traditional heavy metal upbringing - think Cauldron down the pub with Angel Witch - "From Beyond" has really hammered down the accelerator, to the point where the four piece are now more aligned with the likes of Skull Fist and Ranger of the modern day, or "Kill ‘Em All" era Metallica if you want something old-school. The enigmatic vocals of Olof Wikstrand are a key differentiator to those thrashier sounds though - I love how he always sounds like he’s having a great time whatever mood and tempo he sings over, whether it be in the higher pitches of "Undying Evil"'s chorus, the charge of "One With Fire" or "The Banshee" where he, well, you can possibly take a guess of his registry in that one.

Of course Enforcer are no longer a one-man show; Olof's cohorts back him up to a most wonderful extent with the whole collective sounding so focussed and tight with a clear, yet natural production showing off their impressive musical chops to the fullest. Aside from "Below the Slumber" and closer "Mask of Red Death”, the remaining eight tracks never exceed 4½ minutes and yet so much is stuffed into each of them that their durations seem a good deal longer. Opener "Destroyer" is guaranteed to make for an excellent live track as it hares into life with a speed metal infused backbone, ably carried along by the drumming of the younger Wikstrand, Jonas, while a volley of solos midway through the track recall a primetime Megadeth lead duel.

What separates Enforcer from the likes of Cauldron and White Wizzard however is the adroitness of their variations in pace and structures - take the relaxed solo journey through the heart of the title track, the agile pattern rising from the depths of "Hungry They Will Come" (and it’s subsequent explosion into life with a panache that could be culled from mid-80s Maiden) or the slow, haunting lead riff in "Mask of Red Death" which brings to mind Enforcer’s brothers in Tribulation as it threatens to close the album in a reflective mood before daylight returns for a flourishing ending.

Is "From Beyond" as good as "Diamonds"? It’s a tough one to call. "Diamonds" contains arguably some of Enforcer’s greatest songs but as a collective "From Beyond" might well shade it. Bands capable of writing and performing this well, with so much identity and vigour and a knack for memorable riffs should be cherished - it is your duty to help Enforcer become so.

Download: Destroyer, Hungry They Will Come, Undying Evil
For The Fans Of: Ranger, Cauldron, Angel Witch, old Metallica
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.02.2015
Nuclear Blast Records

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