Company: Heavy Artillery Release: 2010 Genre: NWOBHM, Traditional Reviewer: Vinaya
Less emphasis on speed and energy and more on simple, classic metal songcraft
Swedish traditional metallists Enforcer knocked the metal community (or a small, fortunate segment thereof) on its collective arse with their 2008 full-length debut, Into the Night. With power metal having long settled into a comfortable formula and other tradition-based rock and metal subgenres becoming too imitative and simply safe, that album was a refreshing break from business as usual, combining classic Priest and Maiden-derived European-style metal songcraft with the meter-mashing speed and energy levels of early thrash and, er, speed metal. After witnessing the band (plus Canadian kindred spirits Cauldron and others) tear it up in a tiny New England barroom on the tour in support of that album, I was keen to hear what the band would do next.
For those who welcomed the constructively destructive cranium blow that was Into the Night, the band's brand new follow-up effort Diamonds will likely be a bit of a surprise. One thing that made Into the Night stand out was the ludicrously fast pace maintained throughout most of its nine songs. Thus, some may find it puzzling to hear that Diamonds, for the most part, lowers the intensity level (to human levels, basically), with less emphasis on speed and energy and more on simple, classic metal songcraft.
Vocalist extraordinaire Olaf Wikstrand's banshee wail is every bit as awesome as it was on Into the Night, and in fact manages to become both more piercing and simultaneously more melodic in places. Meanwhile, the guitars of Adam Zaars and Joseph Tholl have gotten even more rustic and old-fashioned sounding, as if they have been recording with even older amps than before, their riffs and solos also becoming considerably less manic in the process. So gone for the most part are the balls-out, pedal-through-the-floor speedsters like the debut's "Speed Queen" and "Mistress from Hell." In their place are less intense but still enjoyable nuggets like "Roll the Dice," "High Roller" and the destructive party vibe of opening cut "Midnight Vice," which surprisingly manage to recall the naïve but exciting and fun vibe you garnered from long-forgotten British and European acts such as Dark Star, Torch, Trance, the diabolic Oz and maybe even Ethel the Frog.
Honestly, the reduced intensity and cleaned-up guitar tones had me a bit underwhelmed after the relentless axe attack of the band's debut. But as I sit and listen to it, I begin to find the kinder, gentler Enforcer an almost equally welcome proposition, marveling at the band's newfound ability to put a fresh topspin on yesteryear's underground classics as well as the speedier, thrashier fare that clearly inspired their debut. Now, if they could somehow combine the vibes of these two albums next time around (basically injecting the Diamonds sound with a shot of Into the Night-style energy), that could make for one killer metal feast.
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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