Death By Fire

Written by: EW on 16/02/2013 09:40:15

Due largely to the supreme quality of their previous album, 2010's "Diamonds", Enforcer have found themselves residing in the upper echelons of the heavy metal tree of late, an enviable position though one that naturally breeds the question of how the band move on from here (signing to the Nuclear Blast powerhouse was a start). Call it 'retro heavy metal' if you must, but Enforcer's sound is not to traditional heavy metal what the plagiarists of the dying retro thrash scene was to their forebearers, for these Swedes are one of a number of acts to have taken historic influence and made something new and exciting with it. That 'new' manifests itself in "Death By Fire" as a greater tangent of speed metal to go with the NWoBHM influences that have been obvious since the days of debut LP "Into The Night". Once the ominous "Bells of Hades" has rung its tomes "Death Rides This Night" launches headlong into riffs of Agent Steelian and Exciterous proportions and rarely looks back.

As a lead track proper it revels in the band's still-youthfulness, as riffs deeply reminiscent of Metallica's "Kill 'em All" days (which were themselves essentially Saxon and the likes on speed) buzz past under the banshee screams of Olof Wikstrand. For the first time on record Olof is found handling guitars following the departure of Adam Zaars (he also of the mighty Tribulation) and while he can certainly hold a rhythm the ingenuity Zaars brought is noticed in the absence of melodies of the stature admired in "Katana" from "Diamonds".

"Run For Your Life" is another NWoBHM-on-speed frenzy with flashy solos buried in the lot, while lead single "Mesmerized By Fire", continuing the album's theme of "the most horrific ways to die", benefits from some classic singalong vocal lines and a slightly reduced speed which inversely benefits it's headbangability quotient. You could be forgiven for thinking "Take Me Out Of This Nightmare" to be a Dissection cover from it's frosty opening chords but Wikstrand's impassioned vocals shortly after lead the song in a very different direction. If this chorus doesn't get the crowds singing then we should all just give up and go home now.

"Crystal Suite" is surely an instrumental that was penned by Steve Harris such is the Maiden influence, and just like most recent Maiden material it's decent structure drags on longer than is welcome. "Sacrificed" could be described as a 'standard' Enforcer song - catchy riffs mingling with a strong chorus line - but it feels tame in comparison to "Silent Hour" which follows it and blends in an opportunity for some well-written vocal patterns into its restrained pace. Closer "Satan" is an odd one - it's back to the charging speed metal feel but broken up by the repeat refrain of "SATAN!" in it's chorus. Nothing wrong with the fun way it's put out there - just that such a brazen glorification of our dark lord seems unusual, even in metal circles.

Taken individually the component parts of "Death By Fire" are mostly in the very high category. The production manages to be clear and powerful without crossing into over-produced territory, yet after repeated listens the singular brilliance to be found in "Diamonds" is missing. "Death By Fire" is a very good record for whichever metal subgenre you care to fit it in; "Diamonds" however is simply a classic for metal and one with which these Swedes will likely forever aim to top.

Download: Mesmerized By Fire, Take Me Out Of This Nightmare, Satan
For The Fans Of: early Metallica, Portrait
Listen: Facebook

Release date: 01.02.2013
Nuclear Blast Records

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