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Enforcer > Nostalgia > Reviews
Enforcer - Nostalgia

I Know It Unshackled ME!!! - 95%

VictimOfScience, September 16th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, CD, Nuclear Blast

There could not have been a better time for this album to be released than in 2023. Some strange and bizarre records got released across all genres, but Enforcer's Nostalgia is here to the rescue. This is way above expectations, as after From Beyond and Zenith, which have both been downers when you think of where this band was in every way on the now-classic Diamonds. It was not far-fetched to think it's pretty much over for Enforcer and this was it. Well, Nostalgia is one way to shut me right the fuck up and hit me in the face so hard that the wall was the one that gave me the second punch. Somehow, the band managed to stop messing around and gain more energy, enthusiasm, and spirit than ever before. This is how you react to fans who are doubting your future as a band.

Enforcer decided to go back to what really worked, which is their late-70s and early-80s unmistakable, melodic style. They have a very distinctive sound and a recognizable production. They essentially sound like they are playing in the year 1981, except the clarity is razor-sharp. This works well with their charismatic, creative, enthusiastic songwriting, which shines as bright as the North Star on Nostalgia. Garth Condit is not the original bassist of the band, but he really managed to "take this torch" that Tobias Lindkvist handed over to him because he is just as active and dominant. Out of all the Enforcer albums, this one features the most spirited and inspired songwriting by a long shot.

Highlighting great moments becomes a great challenge when the entire album is this shockingly well-rounded and outstanding. Coming Alive is the obvious choice if you want the wildest, most savage side of Enforcer, with some utterly pitiless riffs on blistering paces, and the craziest version of Olaf ever. But still, the most memorable pieces are the mid-paced heavy metal anthems, like Kiss of Death. Holy shit, did you hear the solo from 1:41!? They aren't Malmsteens, but God damn it, where is the current heavy metal scene compared to this? Extremely coherent and technical playing at very high speeds. The album also demonstrates Enforcer's unique decisions in some scenarios in which the outcome would be obvious. In "Heartbeats" at about 2:42, you'd be lying if you told me you weren't expecting that to turn into some pedal-to-the-metal speedy trailblazing. Instead, Enforcer chose to release all the built-up adrenaline through a mid-paced, mega-melodic chiseling riff with a creative, shredding solo on top. Unique move, and it works perhaps even better.

Drawing a direct comparison between this and Savage Grace's Sign of the Cross is impossible to avoid. Both of these albums came out on the same exact day: May 5th, 2023. Furthermore, they were also going for the same exact purpose: To bring back the early 80s, some of the best years of heavy metal history. Who won? That's up to you, but having lukewarm hard rock tunes, being riddled with utterly stupid lyrics, and being blessed with an album cover that's a propaganda poster for some sort of fictional feminist revolution in medieval times surely won't do any good against a record like Nostalgia by Enforcer.

But that's no fair comparison. Really, this album's "ring" is the entire history of heavy metal, because it's that unbelievably good. It's that catchy, it's that enthusiastic, it's that energized. One of the 2 greatest heavy metal albums in the 21st Century so far. It's jaw-dropping to see how little attention this record has been getting when compared to some albums that were released this year that have absolutely zero business to be even mentioned anywhere near the level of this disc. It's not a problem, because whoever is looking for high-quality, authentic, old-school heavy metal will find this album, and trust me when I say that they'll find their answers to the questions they've been asking in Nostalgia.

Somehow Palpatine Returned - 75%

Sweetie, May 23rd, 2023

A four year gap between Enforcer releases, especially considering the controversy that followed their previous disc, really had me eager to hear what the Swedes would come up with for their sixth time around. Would it be a continuation of the cool and mature energy of the last one? Would the title Nostalgia indicate that it’s back to business as usual? The answer is a little confusing, since for the first time in the band’s history, the direction seems a little unclear. A lot is going on in this effort, so unpacking it bit by bit is the way to go.

For one, stripped away is the clearer Europower tint that covered much of the previous record, letting through some rougher touches that we felt in the earlier albums. The drums specifically stand out in this realm, coating the otherwise buttery guitar noodles with a tougher backbone. Another real consistency lies in the fact that all thirteen tracks avoid the intricate, epic builds or advanced layering that made its way onto several prior releases, making for a disc that’s meant to make a bunch of quick points before moving onto the next.

That, my friends, is my biggest complaint, because I think it’s to blame for the fact that there’s less direction here than anything before. “Unshackle Me,” hooked me immediately with its gothic-meets-noir synths colliding with sturdy rhythms, built under a mature umbrella that generated this idea that a new direction was being molded out of the experiment that was Zenith. Unfortunately, it’s over before you even get a chance to appreciate it. I’m not saying that none of the songs are good, quite the contrary; but I see a large list of metal tunes that rely on having a catchy center for their memorability, not the consistent evolution we saw before. In other words, a fair amount of the songs stand tall on their own, but have little to do with each other and can’t hold the hot flame I’m used to from Olof and co.

Already, the title track seems to yield the most controversy, being a soft ballad stuck in the center of everything. This is a pretty valid take (despite reinforcing my point that doing something different will cause fans to scream), but I don’t think the rest of the tracks flow any better than this one. “Demon” feels like a once-and-done serviceable-enough tune that otherwise holds little weight; it’s a jarring turn from the slower burn of “Heartbeat” with an entirely different vibe. The latter is a far better song anyway, one that would have paired well with “Unshackle Me,” but instead was separated by another by-the-numbers “speed for the sake of speed” tune known as “Coming Alive.” Everything in the back half of Nostalgia follows suit in the same vein, flexing the exact same muscles. I can’t deny the catchiness of “Keep The Flame Alive“ or “At The End Of The Rainbow,” but being an easy sing-along of recyclable rhythms is about all they do for me. Others like “Metal Supremacia” are predictable speedballs reeking of very clear fan service, again, casting an entirely different vibe from the track right before it.

I guess at the end of the day, plenty of people get their wish. This is indeed fitting to its title, throwing back to the band’s older tricks with a few attempts at following the new path, though I personally think it only really borrowed the second-tier tactics from before with a far reach towards blending it into something “exciting” (a very subjective word). The eighth installment of the Star Wars franchise saw changes piss off a bunch of nerds to the point that the ninth installment was a direct fan service. This is a stretch of a comparison, since I do still enjoy much of this record (unlike The Rise Of Skywalker), but the point is, if you complain about a change enough, you'll get something less unique. There are plenty of good moments worth digging up on Enforcer’s sixth effort, but it’s the first real disruption of a very clear path that was “elementary but intriguing speedsters” to “advanced maturity in speed metal” to “shifting the focus towards emotion and epic construction.” If nothing else, it makes me eager to see where things will head next.

Originally written for Sleeping Village

Heavy metal for the future! - 100%

Rattlehed, May 15th, 2023

I’ve been following Enforcer since their very first demo in the Myspace days, through all their ups and downs, in their mission to save metal. And now, after four years they are back with yet another uncompromising heavy metal album. This time said to go back to their roots after ’Zenith’ which many people seem to have been a step towards more accessible music. However, I was one of them who actually liked the way the band was progressing on the previous album, not understanding the comparisons with 80s American commercial metal that a lot of music reviews talked about.

Nostalgia kicks off with ’Armageddon’ - s small prelude that sets the vibe before the opener ’Unshackle Me’. What hits me instantly is the amazingly natural production This time they take it to next level. The drums sounds like huge drums, and the guitars are as sharp as they need to be to emphasize the insane riffing of this album. Overall it sounds like a timeless and strong production far away from the modern plastic and lack-of-character-productions that most other bands in this generation use. The production character of this album is so strong it will definitely be one of those albums you can hear a fragment of a second of in the future and instantly think of the album.

What else strikes me on this album is that most of the songs are relatively short, with a huge deal of creative arrangements and structures. Even though almost all of the songs would be in the simplistic end of the bands song spectra, it really helps to push the strong choruses and memorable melodic lines. Each and every single song is a potential smash hit that you just want to listen to again and again once it has stopped playing. Third song ’Coming Alive’ clocks in at less than 3 minutes and you instantly want to hear it again - the two parted arrangement makes it an insane banger with an incredible riffing.

It’s a thin line between originality and cliché when you play heavy metal but Enforcer lands exactly in the spot where you recognize the sound but at the same time, it is refreshing and original. The songs are just so instantly recognizable without making you think about something you’ve heard before. In ’Heartbeats’, Enforcer show their full potential of songwriting skills taking the listener all over the place. A ominous verse, powerful chorus which culminates in a tempo change and a jamming B-part that just makes you want to bang your head like there’s no tomorrow.

I wouldn’t agree Nostalgia goes back to the roots, you can still hear all the intelligent arrangements, song writing- and instrumental skills as showed on Zenith. The songs are just a bit more cohesive and condensed and it’s full of speed and aggression, just the way you want Enforcer.

So overall, Nostalgia is the album where Sweden’s Enforcer have really found themselves. Nostalgia is a modern classic that easily could be compared to classic heavy metal albums such as ’Number of the Beast, ’Screaming for Vengeance’, ’Master of Puppets’ or ’Back in Black’.
Heavy metal for the future!

Wild Heavy Metal Party on a Friday Night - 85%

kluseba, May 12th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2023, CD, Nuclear Blast

Swedish heavy metal quartet Enforcer had released a quite controversial record with Zenith four years ago that flirted with commercially successful hard rock music of the eighties in the key of Def Leppard, Dokken and Scorpions while also employing occasional keyboard and piano sounds. Now, the band is back to its renowned heavy metal style on sixth studio album Nostalgia that delivers the goods with thirteen songs and a healthy running time of forty-two minutes.

Usually, nostalgia is a term that I don't associate many positive elements with as someone who adores to live in the here and now and likes to think ahead rather than being caught up in an idolized past. I'm glad to inform you that Enforcer's Nostalgia doesn't sound boring, old-fashioned and predictable at all but comes around with an energized, playful and youthful approach that sounds splendidly timeless.

The production is melodic, organic and vibrant. The drum play is remarkably playful and even slightly experimental at times without trying to aim for progressive metal territories. The bass guitar sounds like a hungry monster that is pretty much alive and roaring ferociously in the background. The guitar play is even better with fast and sharp riffs colliding with ecstatic and melodic solos in almost every song. The shining highlight might however be the energizing, fresh and invigorating high-pitched vocals that fit perfectly onto a heavy metal record.

The few keyboard sections on this output attempt to offer some atmospheric depth but that wouldn't have been necessary in my book as the Swedish quartet convinces most when it unleashes its full power relentlessly.

''Unshackle Me'' is an instant highlight with fast-paced melodic guitar play, dynamic rhythm section that takes no prisoners and high-pitched vocals that provide so much enthusiasm that even the most skeptical listeners will already nod along to this song with big smiles upon their faces.

''Coming Alive'' goes even one step further in terms of energy, inspiration and speed. This song clocks in only just above the three-minute mark and tears heads off as if it were the French Revolution all over again. This guillotine of a song offers ferocious heavy metal at its very best and stands its firm ground as my favourite tune on the new album.

''Metal Supremacia'' is an anthem dedicated to the spirit of heavy metal and gets to the point in less than three minutes like some of Judas Priest's greatest bangers. The lyrics are performed in Spanish which should guarantee enthusiastic crowd participation anywhere in Latin America where heavy metal is often celebrated like a religion.

Sure, Enforcer's Nostalgia might not be the most creative record, even in the so-called New Wave of Heavy Metal. It's however one of the most energetic records of its kind and marks a massive return to form after the slightly underwhelming predecessor Zenith. Enforcer's Nostalgia is great fun to listen to from start to finish and once the wild ride is over, most listeners will rightfully feel like hitting the repeat button again. This is the soundtrack to a night out with friends on a Friday night, not for the sake of worshipping old memories but for the purpose of making new ones in the here and now. Crank up the volume, grab a beer and join the party!

You Hold The Answers I've Been Looking For - 95%

CHAIRTHROWER, May 6th, 2023

For a change this weekend I've waylaid immersive television toys in order to salute one of the main instigators of my love for Swedish heavy metal. Alongside equally due Ambush to the South, Stockholm's Enforcer remains a band whose each succeeding output stirs up grand feelings of anticipation, even if full-length number five failed to stoke such flames.

Well, I'm proud to announce it's not the case with Nostalgia, released yesterday to wide fanfare. Except for a notably soft and ill-placed, yet compositionally proficient ballad at its midpoint, the remaining twelve tracks proffer a welcome return to slick, melodic form of textbook Enforcer in style of Diamonds and From Beyond. The final four in particular give impression they're EP reserved material allowed to roam free and rule without delay. That said, had the album ended with preemptive single "At The End Of The Rainbow", I'd had figured it was normal and expected, even if it made things brief.

Aside from "Nostalgia", which brings otherwise throttling momentum to a grinding halt, there's every reason to rejoice over Olof and his boys' belated follow-up to From Beyond once quick synth intro "Armegeddon" extends a shimmering portal to "Unshackle Me', which hits with the full power and guile as that discographic highlight from ages ago, "Undying Evil". Once again, the rhythm section grooves in such a way as to enrich an already fast and hooky session. The same can be said of "Coming Alive", "Demon" and personal fav "Kiss Of Death". Much to the delight of diehard Dio fans, "Heartbeats"'s magical verses and spellbinding guitars appoint a savvy edge to what I thought would be Nostalgia's token moment of levity.

Once past thankfully short and nostalgic speed-bump, it's back in the saddle for these forever youthful veterans as "No Tomorrow" and "At The End Of The Rainbow" pick up the slack. The former borrows "Unshackle Me"'s upbeat arena flavor whilst bringing to mind robotic RAM remembrances from fellow countrymen's cyber-metallic Svbversm days. Suitably, the latter kicks off in top gear before cruising into a sweetly shuffling, Diamonds-esque prattle reminiscent of golden era "Midnight Vice", "Roll The Dice" and "High Roller", which long steered me towards thinking the sophomoric gem was released under Germany's reputable label by same name as opposed to harder inclined Earache Records. As inferred, Enforcer then goes binary by further flexing its regained muscle.

After this multicolored fool's gold dissipates, complete with a topsy-turvy, head spin solo, another storm brews in form of late-game revivers, including closer proper "When The Thunder Roars (Cross Fire)". The quizzically Spanish sung, but intricately footloose in a much appreciated Megadethian manner "Metal Supremecia" whips by beneath our brows only to cede the line to a White Wizzardly "White Lights In The USA", complete with a bodacious bass line and tire squealing lead ahead of singularly ear fetching and fun, quasi-disco bop of a hauntingly gripping guitar riff/slap-some drum combo straight out of the 1980s, courtesy of "Keep The Flames Alive". At twilight's end, Enforcer redeems itself in spades with Nostalgia, a far cry beyond Zenith's horizon.