Enforced – At The Walls Review

“Groove” – the word is almost enough to send old-school metalheads into paroxysms of rage or fear or both. For those of us who survived the 90s / early 2000s, we remember all too well the days when scores of riffless fail-monkeys did their damnedest to ruin the concept of groove, using seven strings to play one note in lockstep, their breakdown-laden pablum spilling forth from Ozzfest side stages the world around, their inexplicable success somehow convincing many greats of yesteryear to sacrifice riff for rhythm and spark for sputter.

Release date: July 19, 2019. Label: WAR Records.
Of course, fundamentally, groove is far from a flawed concept, merely that groove alone does not great metal make. But, when it’s paired with riff and energy… well, that combination of groove-and-friends is goddamned infectious, almost unbeatable.

RVA’s Enforced has that kind of groove, and they have it in spades.

Their first “full-length,” At The Walls is really just both of Enforced’s demos compiled and augmented with two new ragers, but regardless of its origin, it’s a damned fine ripper. Rife with riff and rampant with rumbling groove, At The Walls is crossover thrash, heavier on the metallic side largely thanks to Knox Colby’s biting growl – the closest comparisons come to Helsinki’s killer Foreseen, or to current darlings Power Trip. From the opening salvo of “Reckoning Force” through the mission statement “The Heat” (as in, “can you feel this scorching groove-and-friends combination, chump?”) to closer “Civilized Mind,” Enforced thrashes and thrashes hard, Slayer-meets-DRI-meets-Agnostic Front-in-a-bare-knuckle-brawl, and everyone wins. Colby himself says it best, describing the power of his band’s winning groove-and-friends combination: “It starts like a fist to your face / smashing your ass to the ground / … / ignite with the riff / concussing your skull to the beat.”

The only true criticism one could level at At The Walls is that it doesn’t deviate from an established formula. It sounds like other bands, one of which is currently riding high on a wave of critical praise. Sure, it doesn’t step outside the box, but within those confines, it operates with a pulverizing authority, to results as strong as any current crossover, and anyone predisposed toward liking this type of hardcore-indebted thrashing will find plenty of fire and fury within…

Oh, and also, plenty of serious groove…

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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