Enforced – At the Walls

Trends can sometimes be difficult to identify. You see something over and over again, but you’re not always sure if there’s a pattern or just a series of coincidences. Until you see other people asking around about that thing you saw, you’re not even sure if you’re seeing something correctly or misinterpreting the world around you. This happens in music all the time. It pretty much explains any kind of phenomenon or fad you see in music. Was it common in the early 90s to see a bunch of bands coming out of Seattle? Or what about the explosion of punk music in the early 80s all over? And how about all those bands who started down tuning their guitars and using 7-string instruments?

While that last question doesn’t necessarily apply to Enforced, there are some fairly trendy ideas in their latest record, At the Walls. The Richmond, VA crossover thrash band adds to the growing number of Richmond-based bands, showing the city to be a true friend to the metal community. The RVA group creates what’s becoming a more prevalent sound in modern thrash. It’s a much darker and aggressive version of the sound, frequently flirting with more death metal and has 10 pounds of justified societal rage in a 5 pound bag.

What’s particularly “trendy” about this record is the production values on it. Everything is covered in reverb, It makes At the Walls sound really big and also like it was recorded in a dank dungeon. It creates a certain kind of vibe, like a basement show only much heavier, darker, and belligerent. What would already be a pretty rage-inducing riff now sounds like it’s coming from crack in the earth. So not only is it evil, but it’s also angry at the government and society at large, too. Every riff and shout seems like it’s coming from highly politicized demons. If you like your thrash highly aggressive, you’re living your best life these days.

Enforced is a band of guys who are clearly well-educated on how to sound like a brutal crossover thrash band. This record has everything. It can chug along at a rapid pace with pretty edgy riffs and lyrics. At a moment’s notice, the song will slam on the brakes for a solidly grooving breakdown. There are innumerable moments of guttural shouts of “JUSTICE!” and “BASTARDS!” combined with all the high noted dive bombs you could ask for. Anything you love about thrash metal is on this record, and Enforced are part of the vanguard bringing it back.

Much like Power Trip and Judiciary before them, I think there is a bright future ahead for Enforced. The metal scene is seriously missing this kind of metal these days. Whereas it wasn’t too long ago that hardcore-influenced thrash metal bands were a dime a dozen, now we have a significant lack of them. Enforced is doing what they can to rectify that gap in the marketplace of music. 2019 might be the a key moment for this kind of aggressively politicized metal. We’ve seen a rise in critically acclaimed punk records for pretty obvious cultural reasons. Why not more thrash metal? Why don’t you be the judge?

At the Walls is available July 19 via WAR Records.

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