Putting the power back into power metal, the Swedish speed merchants in Enforcer are back after a nearly three-year writing sabbatical. The resulting album is a rousing ride through heavy metal and AOR’s most preposterous quarters, but without ever being either schlocky or pastiche.
To do heavy metal well—and we mean proper heavy metal—you can wallow in rose-tinted nostalgia (see: any band still wearing spandex this side of 2010) or ramp up the irony. But this is not the path of the Brothers Wikstrand or their comrades Tobias Lindqvist and new guitarist Jonathan Nordwall. They pool all their collective genius (check out any of Lindqvist’s painstakingly faithful side projects, or drummer Jonas’ 1980s-esque film scores) into 10 songs that recall all the glory of high-voltage rock, whether that be the montage-worthy “Zenith of the Black Sun”; the touches of Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime or ’80s-excess Rush; the speed metal we know them best for on tracks like “Thunder and Hell”; a hint of Blind Guardian or Manowar; and even dramatic ballads that nod to homeland heroes Abba and Europe.
Olof’s Geddy Lee/Klaus Meine wail is masterful, and while he gives a good Tom G. “oough,” he’s putting the onus on the underrated “whoa,” which will please audiences this festival season. If Zenith is Enforcer’s apex, then this is a rightfully christened opus, but there’s something exploratory and electrifying about this album that says these guys aren’t even at base camp yet. Maybe the best is yet to come.