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Enforcer > Kiss of Death > Reviews > Xyrth
Enforcer - Kiss of Death

Death, Swede Death - 85%

Xyrth, November 10th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Nuclear Blast

Perhaps I should have saved that title for a classic Swedeath release review someday, but I got so happy when I listened to this sweet new tune by my favorite retro heavy/speed metal band, that I don't mind doing this concession. It appears the Swedes got their shit together again after the disappointing Zenith, their 2019 LP. Not that their fifth release is without merit or catchy tunes (I was particularly amused by their great effort in putting a complete all-Spanish version of that record, and actually prefer many of its songs in my native language), but many of us fans felt that slowing down the speed and amping up the glam wasn't a very good nor enjoyable decision, and so, it is considered by many, myself included as their weakest release so far. Forward to 2021, this under four-minute composition titled “Kiss of Death” has given us hope that the past direction the band took was only a bump in the fast and steady trip to metaldom's upper echelons that has been their career and discography.

The single in question would be entirely at home in any of the band's first four LPs, but if I had to guess without knowing beforehand, I'd say “Kiss of Death” would fit perfectly in the band's third release, Death by Fire, which has a dark, ominous vibe amidst its speed metal aesthetic, with production values that match, and even the cover art has similar traits as the one used for this. “Kiss of Death” also has that ballsy swagger that was sorely missed on the band's previous offering, and it will provoke immediate headband as soon as those driving riffs hit you. It features catchy vocals courtesy of ringmaster Wikstrand, and its catchy chorus with a start and stop dynamic makes it less straightforward than a pure speed metal tune. The dueling guitars and speedy rhythm is carried into the solo, which is brief but suitable. Even if it isn't as potent as the flawless “Mesmerized by Fire”, as refined as the tunes from Diamonds or as aggressive as “Destroyer” or the tracks from their 2008 debut, “Kiss of Death” is decidedly a return to form by the former quartet, once quintet, nowadays trio.

Thinking about Enforcer's signature traits, and other similarly styled new bands, like Cauldron, Screamer, Traveler, Haunt, and so on, ‘retro’ metal, might be the most widely accepted tag, but the other day I red some statements by Olof Wikstrand that got me thinking. In fewer words, he said that this new wave of classically styled bands are the ones keeping traditional metal alive and fresh, while the olde guarde is content in rehashing their old material over and over again, or aren’t releasing sufficiently worthy stuff. That might have some truth in it, considering some of the appalling things that have come out recently from big budget “brand” names like the plod-fest that is the latest Iron Maiden record, or the atrocious re-recordings by Manowar. So, while ‘original’ might not apply to Enforcer and their ilk, one can argue that their ‘fresh’ barrage of 80s-styled albums are definitely more interesting and fulfilling than the last footsteps of some of the still-active classic heavy metal's heavyweights.

In any case, there's no denying that “Kiss of Death” is a new, exciting melodic speed metal tune, and I confidently state that it is superior to anything from Zenith, even the catchy “Forever We Worship the Dark” (or, as I prefer it, “Por Siempre Seguimos la Oscuridad”). It's also quite more fun than anything from Senjutsu, despite what the diehard Irons fans will tell you, or than the solid, but ultimately redundant new Accept record. “Kiss of Death” serves as a spearheading sign that Enforcer's future sixth LP will also be a return to form as a whole, a fact confirmed by the bands’ even more recent single, “At the End of the Rainbow”, also quite enjoyable, though not as good.