Enforced – War Remains
Release Date: 28/04/23
Running Time: 33:00
Review by Rory Bentley
As one of the Thrash skeptics at EM, it normally takes one of two things to pique my interest in a new Thrash album. It either needs to be perfectly fused with other styles of metal within exceptional compositions like Infanteria’s stunning 2022 opus “Patriarch”, or it needs to be basically a nasty Hardcore album with some Slayer bits chucked over the top. Guess which one this is?
If any band can fill the Power Trip shaped hole at the heart of modern Thrash then Enforced are surely it, combining grimy modern production with a precision focus on breaking faces that seems solely designed to upset security staff at Metal festivals. Now with “War Remains” the Richmond Virginia chug-titans are back with another audio nail bomb of pit-detonating riffs, snarling vocals and a production job that oozes filth out of the speakers. War remains indeed.
Clocking in at nearly ten minutes less than its predecessor, “War Remains” is singular in its bloody purpose. Appropriately monikered opener ‘Aggressive Menace’ is myopic in its goal of causing maximum damage in its sub three minute runtime. Warp speed riffs and shredding leads that crop up whenever the fuck they want are the order of the day here, and the devastating triplets and half time drums feel like ‘Battery’ being played by Discharge after they’ve raided Lemmy’s medicine cabinet.
The only note I wrote upon hearing ‘The Quickening’ for the first time was ‘circle pit city’. I feel as a writer I should probably have some pride in my work and elaborate on this, but as a bloke trying to tell you how sick a Thrash record is these three words are more than sufficient. If you’re looking for anything approaching subtlety or sonic innovation this Millwall Brick of a record aint for you, pal. Those of you in the market for just over half an hour of double kick drums to harm your furniture to, however will appreciate the frankly disgusting chug section at the end of ‘Hanged By My Hand’ where frontman Knox Colby loses his shit like a distressed animal.
It is incredibly difficult to do a simple thing well and stand out from the crowd. Most songs on here are a mixture of wrist-wrecking speed picking, violent beatdowns and mid-paced crunching sections that the late Paul Baloph would be more than happy to howl over were he with us today, and many a Thrash band follows this formula. The difference here from the majority is that it feels like it has been distilled down to its most pure and potent form. There is not a second of fat to be found on the neck-snapping lurch of ‘Avarice’ or the deadly triplets of the title track, everything gets in and out for maximum impact. Wish that riff was repeated a bit more? Listen to the album again. Want to bellow along to the surprisingly catchy chorus on ‘Nation of Fear’ one more time? Listen to the album again. This thing absolutely flies by without ever feeling slight or unfinished.
Huge credit must go to the bang up recording job done by Ricky Olsen who keeps things sounding crusty and grimy yet terrifyingly precise. I often state that a more raw production feels like you’re in the room with the band, and this is certainly the case here. The difference being that when ‘Ultra-Violence’ hits its ominous opening chord and kicks into warp-speed Slayer on crack territory, it’s not a room you’d want to be in if you want to keep your bones unbroken. Metal should sound fucked up and dangerous, like the whole song is constantly on the brink of falling apart and Enforced and their talented producer definitely get that.
Will this album change your life? Not unless you suffer a debilitating injury during one of the songs at a live show, which could very easily happen. Will it give you a shot of pure adrenaline and beat the shit out of 99% of Thrash bands currently garnering undeserved praise for sleep-walking their way through more palm-muted mediocrity? Fuck yeah.
‘Hanged By My Hand’ Official Video
01. Aggressive Menace
02. The Quickening
03. Hanged By My Hand
05. War Remains
06. Mercy Killing Fields
07. Nation of Fear
Knox Colby – Vocals
Will Wagstaff – Guitars
Zach Monahan – Guitars
Ethan Gensurowsky – Bass
Alex Bishop – Drums
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rory Bentley and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.