Album Review: Enforcer – Nostalgia

Album Review: Enforcer - Nostalgia
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Amongst the annals of Sweden’s traditional metal scene, Enforcer could just be considered one of the longest running. Having formed in 2004 originally as a one-man band through founding vocalist Olof Wikstrand, the band eventually grew into what it is now and, this year marks the nineteenth year since their inception and, in that time, the band have gifted us with five albums that have only furthered their name and reputation, especially back in the mid-2000s when the traditional metal revival was such a hotly received notion. Now, the Stockholm based band seek to unleash their sixth full length work, aptly titled Nostalgia, upon fans new and old alike for a May release. My overall experience with Enforcer is misty at best, a band I’ve known for years but haven’t delved into too greatly. Nostalgia’s upcoming release was therefore a prime opportunity to understand what Enforcer are all about.

One of the things that has given Enforcer such approachable vibes throughout their discography, is how easy it is to just sit back and relax while an album of theirs is playing. When you put any Enforcer record on, the band don’t go about demanding anything from you nor are they judging your wishes for a more lax experience. You can feel the strength and energy that’s flowing through their performance yet, you can do so whilst firmly in the midst of another activity; Enforcer are perfectly content with your attention being else where whilst Nostalgia plays in the background and, I believe, that’s a signature reason why people will return to this album. It won’t pressure you through devastating sonic pressure nor will you feel compelled to ride along with its power like a thrashier work would imply. Enforcer are akin to a good, reserved friend; you can each sit side by side without your attention being fixated on the other, merely appreciating each other’s company.

Building off this ease of accessibility lies the guitar work. Enforcer’s established style is one of a traditional metal approach wherein you know precisely the kind of soundscape the band are vying for, and six albums into their career their fanbase knows what to expect. Yet, as someone who isn’t fully versed in Enforcer’s sound, it’s a relief to encounter a traditional metal sound that manages to straddle the line between modern and retro without leaning either way too heavily. The production quality is great, and deeply polished, as is expected from an album like this, which enables the instrumentation to shine forth. What’s pleasing however, is the band didn’t go overboard on outlining their instrumentation so much it slaps you in the face every time a new song plays. Throughout the thirteen tracks here, the band gently ease us into every one of them so, when the riffs are playing and the songwriting is shaking things up, it takes no effort at all to follow along to it.

Album Review: Enforcer - Nostalgia

I think Enforcer get the traditional metal sound spot on, not simply due to their instrumental and songwriting capabilities but, because their vocal implementations is pitch perfect for what you’d want to find in a traditional metal album. Varying vocal performances have been applied across all kinds of metal records, the kind Enforcer perform, and often they can be completely on the extreme end of things whereby an album is dominated by high-pitched screeching, overdoing it wherein the audience loses interest. However, Olof Wikstrand has hit on the exact balance between providing vocals that empower and engage us, and possessing a set of pipes that genuinely move us during the band’s slower ballads, nicely interspersed periodically to break up the flow of the album’s numerous songs.

The album’s track running may seem a little off putting initially. At over forty minutes, possessing an introductory piece and twelve following songs, it’s a lot of material for a first time fan to get stuck in with. Yet, I’ve got no complaints for the number of songs herein since, looking closer, each one is no more than three or four minutes long. As a result, coupled with the album’s easygoing listening experience, Nostalgia is in fact extremely laidback. As I moved towards the end of their record knowing I was beginning track ten, my sense of joy was still at a high, knowing I was still to receive more bouts of frivolity and engaging fun. Enforcer don’t let themselves become bogged down in anything overtly technical or superficial; their songwriting plays out for us, then they move on to the next.

In conclusion, Enforcer’s Nostalgia, their sixth full length album, is a quality piece of traditional heavy metal primarily because of its carefree and easygoing nature. The replayability of this album is immense not simply because of the great songwriting and vibes one will naturally get out of Nostalgia, but the inviting allure the record harnesses too. Listening to this record is like having a door opened by a longtime friend, except you’ve seen them only the other day but the welcome is still as warm and passionate as it was the first time many moons ago. Sweden’s traditional metal scene is renowned for being amongst the best in the world and Enforcer are a prime example as to why; they’re not going out of their way to craft the greatest album you’ve heard this year but you know you’re going to come back to it, knowing the fun and freeing sensations Nostalgia provide. A great ride to be had, with plenty of material to run through in a healthy amount of time. I certainly enjoyed this.

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