Another retro 80’s metal album being reviewed on Angry Metal Guy? This place must really be going to hell in a hand basket. Well, at least one angry metal reviewer is enjoying the ride and Enforcer’s new album Diamonds would be the perfect soundtrack for any such hell bound pleasure excursion. Following along with 80’s NWOBHM worshiping peers Steelwing and Stormzone, Sweden’s Enforcer roars back to life with the follow up to 2008’s Into the Night and the results are pretty impressive and more fun than barrel full of monkeys.
Unlike the aforementioned bands, Enforcer’s take on the 80’s metal sound borrows more from the proto-thrash American bands of that era instead of the usual Saxon/Iron Maiden hero worship. Stylistic nods to old Abattoir, Anvil and even Neil Turbin era Anthrax can be heard as Diamonds flies by in a near-hysterical metal fit. Most of the tracks on Diamonds are speedy, energetic and ballsy but maintain a kind of goofy, tongue-in-cheek sensibility and humor about them. The best way to describe this album in one word is FUN. From start to finish, Diamonds is just plain fun to listen to. This is the kind of album that makes fun activities even more enjoyable if played in the background. It’s heavy enough in that old-school way but very rock n roll at its core with very memorable, fun choruses.
Making Diamonds so much fun is the wild and frantic guitar work of Adam Zaars and Joseph Tholl. Across the entire album the guitars are the focal point and these guys craft some fun, catchy riffs and play off one another very well. The “more is always better” soloing style and the old school dueling guitar solos carry the songs along with fury and never let things get boring for a minute. Highlights are many but “Roll the Dice,” “Katana,” “High Roller” and “Nightmares,” really blast with fun filled insanity.
Adding to the berserk atmosphere are the cheerfully frenetic vocals of Olof “Enforcer” Wikstrand (this would be a great name for a pro wrestler too). Clearly an honors graduate of the “balls in a vice” school of singing, Olof goes positively apoplectic on the microphone. You have to applaud his unhinged style and effort. Check out his manic breakdowns on the choruses of “Nightmares” or “Walk with Me” for a good time.
The production is appropriately 80’s in style while also being very tinny and high pitched in a way that would make many corpse-painted black metal ghouls frown with approval. However, it suits Enforcer‘s style and approach since the guitars are tuned fairly high and tinny too. The vocals and guitars are way up front but the drums are also plenty loud in the mix which insures the needed punch and heft. Hell, even the bass is audible most of the time which is pretty rare on metal albums these days.
Is this a serious, important work of heavy metal? No freaking way! Thinking metal this clearly isn’t. It’s a lighthearted, retro metal tribute album meant to be fun and played loud to annoy the neighbors. I for one don’t want to listen to “important” music when I’m trying to unwind, loosen up and have some fun and neither should you. Save the important and meaningful stuff (i.e. Nevermore) for later, get a beer or four and listen to Olof and his crew drive this heavy metal mother right off the cliff.