"Into the Night"

(Heavy Artillery 2008)Enforcer - Into the Night

I recently watched an episode of Penn and Teller’s wonderfully caustic and comic television show in which they slagged the hell out of those overwhelmed with nostalgia for bygone eras. One group of winners they railed particularly hard were people stuck in the ‘80s, positing that people living in the past are escaping the unsatisfying state of their present. If that’s true, than the guys in Enforcer must be four of the most depressed musicians on the planet. For these guys, if it ain’t metal released prior to 1983, it doesn’t exist.

This Swedish quartet’s penchant for wallowing in music of bygone decades makes “Into the Night” sound as if it dropped smack dab in the middle of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. “On the Loose” and “Black Angel” are full of the gallop that Iron Maiden would make their signature, and “City Lights” is a grand, propulsive instrumental that wouldn’t sound terribly out of place on “Number of the Beast.” Maiden isn’t the only source of inspiration Enforcer draw on; leads abound of the type favored by Judas Priest, and they also flaunt the technical proficiency of Diamond Head and the snarl of acts like Sweet Savage. One of the group’s favorite tricks is to throw in speedy thrashiness, like the devilishly hooky, and appropriately named “Speed Queen.”

Adding to the retro charm is vocalist Olof Wikstrand, whose pipes are an amalgamation of King Diamond, Bruce Dickinson, and Hammerfall’s Joacim Cans. The guy has serious range, but his accent leads to easily misinterpreted lyrics. I challenge anyone not to confuse “Black Angel, show your wrath/Black Angel, you cross my path” with my reading: “Black Angel, show your ass/Black Angel, crush my balls.” I will clearly never be a lyricist.

If the goal was to emulate vastly important metal acts, most of whom nobody remembers today, than mission accomplished. Enforcer even pulls this off without turning themselves into a parody of the very musicians they idolize. “Into the Night” hearkens back to times when metal bore significantly less grim faces. As long as it bears music that’s this fun and catchy, let’s hear it for manic nostalgia.


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