Album Title: Kill Grid
Label: Century Media Records
Date of Release: 12 March 2021
Having fallen back in love with thrash metal over the last 18 months or so, I am now going to attempt a further broadening of my horizons by giving some cross-over thrash a shot. Not really one for hardcore or punk, this might be a bridge too far, but let’s have a go nonetheless. The object of this experiment is the new album from Enforced, entitled ‘Kill Grid’. I may not have even given it a look-in, had it not been for a very polite and courteous message from the UK PR rep asking me if I was interested in giving it a go. I’m always willing to give things a go, so I here we are.
By way of background, Enforced hail from Richmond, Virginia in the United States. They have been active since 2016, with ‘Kill Grid’ being their second full-length release and first from within the Century Media family. The fact that Enforced have found their way onto the roster of such a large label demonstrates that there must be something good about this young quintet, comprised of vocalist Knox Colby, guitarists Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan, bassist Ethan Gensurowsky, and drummer Alex Bishop.
And you know what? I don’t know whether it’s the mood in which I find myself today, or what, but there is something that is seriously clicking for me with this record. Hunched over a laptop, day after day, in the same room, doing the same job – I didn’t realise it but maybe I was reaching breaking point. And what better music to listen to than music filled with violence, vitriol, and an attitude that sticks a giant two fingers up at anyone or anything that gets in their way? Enter Enforced.
This might not be the kind of music I’ll always gravitate towards but right here, right now, it’s perfect. I love the way that the Enforced way is to take all of their obvious influences and throw them into a giant melting pot to create the exact kind of music that they want to listen to and play. Because of that, there’s an authenticity and raw honesty that comes through in their music, making it all the more entertaining to listen to.
The track that I gravitate immediately towards is ‘Malignance’. Why? Because it starts off with an incendiary, blistering thrash riff that could melt faces, before changing tack in a heartbeat, to deliver something altogether more groove-laden, with the molten heaviness of someone like Bolt Thrower or Obituary. The lead guitar licks are wonderful and catchy as hell, the drums are a relentless battery, whilst the bass is a dirty, depraved rumbling that adds substance to the overall sound. Knox Colby’s vocals rip through the song, full of aggression, spite and venom. And then there are the solos which snarl and wail in equal measure, threatening to cut loose and spiral out of control at any time, very reminiscent of Slayer in their pomp.
I also love the groove of ‘UXO’, which really harnesses the band’s inner Obituary. It’s a muscular rip-snorter of a track that flexes those neck muscles whether you want to or not; headbanging to this monster is mandatory and a great deal of fun too. Then there are tracks like ‘Curtain Fire’ or ‘Hemorrhage’ which display the hardcore influences more overtly than other tracks, principally in the shouted ‘gang’ style vocals, whilst the punk attitude looms large within the likes of ‘Beneath Me’, a two-minute blast of naked, but well-contained attitude and aggression.
What I wasn’t expecting though, was the title track. Eager to prove that they are not a one-trick pony, in steps ‘Kill Grid’ at the halfway stage of the album. Comfortably the longest song on the album, it begins with a dark, foreboding cinematic vibe as the guitars gently, menacingly gather intensity before the track really hits full stride, complete with a cool solo over a slow-paced riff. This being Enforced, they soon ramp up the pace and with it comes yet more riffs, and lead guitar breaks but in general, the track inhabits more of a mid-tempo environment, allowing the rhythm section to lead the groove-laden assault, ably assisted by muscular guitar tones. The organic production is perfect, as yet more lead solos eddy and swirl until we’re seen out by more strange sound effects, more unsettling noise than anything else.
In the relatively short time that I have had the company of this record, I have played it almost non-stop and the gloss has not worn off. That’s a sure sign of quality if ever I’ve seen or heard one. It means that I’ve quickly become acquainted with the Enforced modus operandi and what’s more, I have fallen for it’s charms. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I do, but as I said before, there’s a lot to be said for being in the right place at the right time. At another time in my life, I might have reached a different conclusion. However, if this is what great cross-over thrash sounds like, count me in. Take a bow Enforced, because ‘Kill Grid’ has made me into a convert.
The Score of Much Metal: 87%
Further reviews from 2021:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: