Of Mice & Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
Written by: GR on 17/11/2010 23:05:58
Here's a release I've been meaning to tell you about since early summer; the second full-length from Swedish trad-metal heroes Enforcer. I first discovered these guys a few years back thanks to the "Speed Kills...Again" compilation and instantly loved their speed metal attack. Since then their line-up and sound has evolved, for the better, and culminated in "Diamonds", one of this year's best heavy metal albums.
So, I've let the opinion-choked cat out of the bag already: Enforcer have really taken a step up from debut "Into The Night" and delivered on the promise it showed. Click on that link and have a read of EW's review of said album... Go on, I'll wait here. Well, the sentiments expressed in the last paragraph or so are particularly of note, as it's almost as though Enforcer had these in mind when recording "Diamonds", such is the extent to which the album answers such (constructive) criticism. Sure this is still early 80s-rooted heavy metal, just a glance at the album cover could tell you as much, but Enforcer have found their own collective personality and written a bunch of top-quality songs that will have any right minded headbanger coming back again and again.
From the off, obvious influences such as Iron Maiden and Angel Witch abound once again - heightened all the more by a decidedly old-school production job - and it's this side of the sonic spectrum that the band have developed into. Previous thrash/speed leanings have receded somewhat in favour of an increased NWOBHM feel, although still with plenty of punch. Carefully considered yet charmingly under-polished melodies and harmonies, along with catchy riffs, prominent driving bass-lines and the excellent wail of vocalist and band leader Olof Wikstrand all combine in a sound that might not be original but is sure as hell very enjoyable. Each of the 10 tracks that make up "Diamonds" are worthy of mention, from instant-classic opener "Midnight Vice" all the way through to energetic closer "Take Me To Hell", without a drop in quality anywhere along the journey. In fact, looking down the tracklist now, I can sing each song - including the instrumental title track - in my head without hesitation, indicating a kind of song-writing class comparable to the debut albums of the legendary bands mentioned at the start of this paragraph.
Maybe I'm getting a bit carried away here, but songs like personal favourites "Walk With Me" and "Nightmares" showcase the sort of music that I truly love - and from the impassioned performance captured on record, it seems Enforcer love it just as much. Many bands are accused of heartlessly rehashing the past but Enforcer play with the kind of conviction that even the most cynical would be hard pushed to question. I could continue blathering on for aeons but I think it best simply to implore those of you with a liking for heavy metal to check this album out if it hasn't already been the soundtrack to a joyous and care-free festival season. It's all very well me recommending music I was given for free, but I can say I've put my money where my mouth is this time: a limited edition vinyl version of "Diamonds" sits in my collection, a poster of its cover adorns my bedroom wall and the t-shirt hangs in my wardrobe. This album is hard-on inducing in its simple glory and you'll be nursing a semi for years to come.
Download: Buy it on vinyl!
For The Fans Of: Early Iron Maiden, Angel Witch, Tygers of Pan Tang
Release Date 24.05.2010