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ENFORCED War Remains

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Friday, May 5, 2023 @ 9:10 AM


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ENFORCED
War Remains

Century Media Records




After stretching things out a bit – relatively speaking - on its second album, 2021’s Kill Grid, Richmond, Va.’s, ENFORCED trimmed away what little fat there was and found a whole other level of overdrive for War Remains. As frontman Knox Colby notes in the album’s press materials, “It’s almost 10 minutes shorter than our last record and packs 10 times more of a punch.”

And while that’s a bit hyperbolic, since Kill Grid certainly packed plenty of punch, the quintet does deliver the high-velocity, high-intensity old school thrash metal of War Remainswith cunning efficiency. Kill Grid – which I have seen described, and perhaps rightly so, as the band’s South Of Heaven - offered nine tracks in a still relatively tidy but certainly more fleshed out, less unrelenting 41 minutes. War Remains adds one more tune but brings it all home in a fast and furious 34 minutes.

That’s still more robust than the band’s Reign In Blood-like 26-minute debut, At The Walls from 2019, but War Remains flat out rips nevertheless. It hits the gas with the spot-on opener “Aggressive Menace” and never looks back. While there is not much different here in terms of style (it’s textbook crossover thrash) and production (it’s nicely rough and tumble, but with no shortage of muscle) from what came before, the sheer vehemence of the band’s performance and the freewheeling batch of songs works to make those moot points.

As with the earlier albums, ENFORCED fuses the aggression of SLAYER at its vintage prime with the rambunctiousness of more recent upstarts POWER TRIP or Richmond homies MUNICIPAL WASTE. “The Quickening”, “Averice”, “Mercy Killing Fields” and the barely two-minute “Ultra-Violence” keep things raging as guitarists Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahanspit out a flurry of gnashing, staccato riffs and caterwauling, dive-bomb solos – a la Hanneman/King - over Alex Bishop’s break-neck drumming.

The chuggy “Hanged by My Hand” and chunkier title track and “Nation Of Fear” slow things to a degree but dole out curb-stomp grooves that ratchet up the heaviness. Album closer “Empire” offers a quick nod to fellow Richmond-ites LAMB OF GOD’s modern thrash histrionics at its outset before blasting off with more traditional zeal.

Despite its almost militantly no-frills approach and reckless energy, War Remains as tight as a drum and easy to warm up to. Brisk though they may be, and despite a lack of any sort of rousing choruses, the songs are still pretty catchy thanks to their abundant hooks and Colby’s commanding holler - and should be just perfect for the “circle-pitting and stage diving” he also speaks of in the press kit. Sounds like fun.

4.0 Out Of 5.0


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