Enforcer – From Beyond

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Enforcer’s shtick was old before they had even recorded their first demo. But four albums into their career and they can pen a good ode to classic 80s metal. The Swedish four piece – Olof Wikstrand (Guitars & Vocals), Joseph Tholl (Guitars), Tobias Lindqvist (Bass), Jonas Wikstrand (Drums) – probably know it’s not 1982 anymore (we hope…), but they don’t care.

It’s good, mindless fun, and that’s ok.

From the opening notes of ‘Destroyer’ you know what you’re going to get over the next 40-odd minutes; no pretence, no bullshit, just big riffs, melodic hooks, shout-along choruses and the urge to wear nothing but denim and leather. This is pure high octane 80’s metal from 2015.

You like galloping riffs? We got it. High-pitch wailing? You know it. Air-guitar inducing solos? Of course. Enforcer have done their research; Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Diamond Head, Saxon, plus numerous lesser known ‘cult’ acts; all your favourite NWOBHM influences are present and accounted for. It’s a meticulous copy of all the best bits of heavy metal’s classic years combined with a good ear for hooks. You could make a game out of identifying which riffs they’ve stolen from which band/album.

From Beyond (Nuclear Blast) has a default tempo of fast. The likes of ‘One with Fire,’ ‘Hell Will Follow’ and the opener all scream speed metal. ‘The Banshee’s simple but addictive chorus and twin lead guitars has future crowd pleaser written all over it, while ‘Below The Slumber’ and album closer ‘Mask of Red Death’ are both six-minute mini-epics; starting slow and quiet before bringing a plenitude of riffs and noise.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with From Beyond; if you liked any of their previous efforts (or indeed any other super retro act) they’ll be plenty to enjoy here, and if you have a craving for authentic sounding metal from three decades ago you’ll be more than pleased. But anyone chasing anything more than nostalgia will find nothing particularly to enthuse about.

7.0/10

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DAN SWINHOE

Massacre – Back From Beyond

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It has been 23 years since Rick Rozz and Terry Butler last released anything of note under the banner of Massacre, and that two decades plus hiatus has allowed their debut From Beyond to achieve the legendary status its Bay Area-meets-Death quality deserves, a great collection of straight down the line death metal songs that set the tone for literally millions of bands to follow.

With such an iconic release in their catalogue, but with years of less than stellar activity individually, expectations for Back From Beyond (Century Media) are mixed. The first thing that strikes is the powerful production as guitars barrel out of the traps (once the pointless intro has meandered on by) into ‘As We Wait To Die’. New vocalist Ed Webb does a decent enough job, sounding like (the heavier of) Burton C. Bell (‘s voices), but lacking the distinctive and charismatic tones of non-returnee Kam Lee.

While Massacre always leant to the thrashy, (pre-Chaos AD) Sepultura end of American Death Metal, it’s interesting to see how much groove and chug metal is in their newer sound; ‘Hunters Blood’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Lamb of God album. That isn’t to say the trademark Massacre DM has been abandoned, as ‘Ascension of the Deceased’ throwback like a Thursday, ‘Shield Of The Son’ thrash-snaps the neck, while ‘Evil Within’ and ‘Beast With Vengeance’ pay homage to Chuck.

Sticking resolutely in the mid-tempo and to a simple but effective riffing style with only the odd venture out of their stomping ground, Back From Beyond settles into a pattern of mixing late 90’s groove with old school Death Metal riffing. In the main, with each track in isolation, it works to good effect, but as a whole due to a lack of dynamics and colour, no track to rival a ‘Cryptic Realms’ and an overly long running order (14 tracks!? You have to be amazing to stay interesting for 14 tracks!) Back From Beyond is an enjoyable, solid yet unspectacular return. Nothing to rival From Beyond but serves as a better follow-up than (the-Massacre-album-that-shall-not-be-named).

7/10

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Steve Tovey