Enforcer – Zenith

Unashamedly 1980’s in their approach to Metal, Enforcer were formed in Sweden in 2004 but it could just as easily have been LA in 1982. All leather, spandex, studded belts and dodgy haircuts, the Scandinavian four-piece tend to unfairly get lumped in with novelty acts such as Steel Panther, but are easily one of the better exponents of the retro Metal movement.

Originally a one-man project started by vocalist/guitarist Olof Wikstrand, the band quickly grew when younger brother Jonas Wikstrand joined as drummer/keyboard player. Now, after a few tweaks in personnel, the band have returned after a gap of four years with their fifth full-length studio album, Zenith (Nuclear Blast).

Opener ‘Die For The Devil’ gets things started with a bang. Three minutes of classic 80s riffing, solos and pouting, complete with not very subtle hints of Def Leppard and Dio, and an inescapably catchy “woah-oh” chorus. ‘Zenith Of The Black Sun’ sounds like a collaboration between Dio and Rush, with an irresistible gallop riff section, and an ending straight out of Paul Di’Anno era Iron Maiden.

‘Searching For You’ is the speed metal soundtrack to a Mötley Crüe bar brawl, ‘Regrets’ reveals the band’s Scandinavian pop sensibilities, owing as much to Abba as anyone else, while ‘The End Of A Universe’ is a mid-paced Judas Priest stomper with added Rob Halford style screams.

With Wikstrand’s Geddy Lee meets Dennis DeYoung vocal style, ‘Sail On’ could easily be a lost Styx track, ‘One Thousand Years of Darkness’ contains short orchestral jabs which don’t quite come off, but a neoclassical and progressive sound which definitely does.

‘Thunder and Hell’ is more speed metal fury, ending with a classical guitar outro, while ‘Forever We Worship the Dark’ begins in militaristic fashion before developing into some kind of annoyingly catchy disco rock musical number, before the album closes with ‘Ode to Death’, a cinematic seven minutes clearly directed towards the mighty Manowar.

Not giving a single fuck about what people think about sleeveless denim jackets and bullet belts in 2019, Enforcer attack the retro genre with big guitars, big drums and more eighties riffs than you can shake a stick at. Traditional metal replete with a succession of hooks and stupidly catchy choruses Zenith is sure to be a popular entry on many end of year lists during the month of December.

8 / 10

GARY ALCOCK