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Enforced: War Remains

Richmond based crossover thrashers Enforced seem to have built up quite a bit of hype over the past few years, but the rise and (deserved) decline of the entire party thrash scene has made me weary and reticent to give newer, younger bands in the overarching thrash scene much of a chance. It's admittedly shallow and I'm sure I've missed out on a lot of good music by being so indifferent (I've avoided countless Municipal Waste clones, so that's a plus), but to these rapidly aging ears none of this modern alloy of metal has anywhere near the gravitas or oomph that the classics of the genre had in it's 80's heyday. Add in the term "crossover", which to me conjures images of smelly shirtless dudes stagediving to obligatory late-song breakdowns and I suppose I didn't approach War Remains with a completely open mind. Well, the boys from Virgina apparently could smell my bullshit all the way from Pennsylvania and preceded to kick me in the nuts through the speakers for the entire 34 minute runtime of the album. Good on ya, guys. I deserved it.

This is, to my ears, is just a ridiculously well played old school thrash metal album with some dirt and grime rubbed into it's gnarly cracks and crevices. There's plenty of speedy and technical riffs to be had on War Remains, but there's also this lurching and crawling old-school death metal thing that hangs around in the background. It rears its head from time to time (such as on "The Quickening" or "Mercy Killing Fields") and while it never overstays it's welcome it lends a dark aura to all the mosh ready riffs and stompy bits. And there are certainly plenty of stompy bits. The breakdowns are frequent, but not egregiously thrown all over the place or anything, so even a genre curmudgeon such as myself could easily find themselves in the pit during a song or two during an Enforced set.

I suppose that leads me to what you could say is one of the highest compliments I can give War Remains on the whole; it's infectious and has bucket loads of enthusiasm. There's so much energy and headbanging vigor to be had on here. At 10 tracks and just over 33 minutes total runtime, none of the songs get stale and keep the adrenaline pumping. Leadoff thrasher "Aggressive Menace" just explodes out of the speakers with warp speed gallops like a modernized Slayer and the assault only lets up to lead into the bludgeoning mosh breakdown. Most of the songs follow a similar pattern, but the riffs are tasty and the songs short, so there's no shame in that. A band like Enforced pride themselves on the all mighty riff, and each track here has at least a few that will get your head banging. Also of note; vocalist Knox Colby is excellent. He's emotive, has all the aggression you could ask for, and has plenty of range and versatility in his myriad of grunts and growls. Monotone vocalists are a big problem with newer (and older) Thrash bands, so his performance is a huge boon to the band. Nobody in this band ever sounds like they are mailing it in or bored. It all sounds great as well, from the lightspeed rhythms of the buzzsaw guitars to the punchy bass and drums, it sounds like denim vests and circle pits in all the best ways.

It's really hard to find much to dislike here. I suppose if I had to nitpick I could again bring up that the songs all tend to follow a similar flight path, but if it ain't broke don't fix it. This is music to thrash out to, and the band knew exactly what they were doing by keeping War Remains short and sweet. After a full listen you'll be sweaty and exhausted, but hungry for more. After slamming a cheap beer you'll reach for the play button to go through the grinding wheel all over again.

1. Aggressive Menace
2. The Quickening
3. Hanged by My Hand
4. Avarice
5. War Remains
6. Mercy Killing Fields
7. Nation of Fear
8. Ultra-Violence
9. Starve
10. Empire

Added: April 11th 2023
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 475
Language: english

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