Enforced’s Thrash Metal Threat Escalates on “War Remains” (Interview)
Richmond, Virginia’s thrash metal/crossover newcomers Enforced have been mighty prolific since their 2016 formation. On their third full-length album War Remains—their second with Century Media Records—the band continue their arsenal of raging riffs, slicing rhythms, and war-torn lyrics on the album’s 10 pulverizing tracks.
Featuring vocalist Knox Colby, bassist Ethan Gensurowsky, drummer Alex Bishop, and guitarists Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan, the quintet has become a lethal musical unit within a short period of time. Hailing from Richmond, Enforced are in good company with fellow hometown bands such as GWAR, Municipal Waste, Iron Reagan, and Lamb of God. Richmond’s a big city with a tight-knit metal community, where the friendly competition and camaraderie between bands is exceptionally high. Rising out of the ashes of various disbanded hardcore and punk bands in the Richmond area, the members of Enforced have adopted a strong DIY work aesthetic, along with a “We’re all in this together” mentality.
“I think the camaraderie is high within the whole underground music scene,” Colby explained during a recent Zoom chat. “Everyone's pretty tight knit when it comes to playing shows. We still play hardcore shows locally, even though I guess by now we're concretely a metal band. We didn't really start out that way, or that wasn't our intent. It was definitely a metal-tinged hardcore band, and that's all we played was hardcore shows. But after the last couple of years of touring with bigger metal bands, I think the zeitgeist kind of sees us in a completely different way. Which is fine with me, as long as people are loving it and reacting to it and having a good time.”
Most people assume that because a band is signed to a record label—and in Enforced’s case, a rather prolific one in Century Media—that the label takes care of all the monetary matters. But that’s not the case anymore, as Enforced remain entirely on their own when it comes to certain business decisions. “There comes a point where a band turns into a business, and so you have to start thinking about it in those terms,” Colby states. “(Century Media) helps out a lot with the music videos, and they help out a lot with interviews. They're really good at the promotional part of it and connecting me with people to talk to. When Kill Grid came out, I kind of forgot about all the press interviews. It's so cool to see how everyone's working and operating on things. But when it comes to tours and stuff like that, that's all on us. And how we want to present things, that's all on us. As long as there's a constant line of communication with all of it, we haven't had an issue. In that regard, I praise Century Media for really just letting us do our own thing.”
Before entering the studio to record War Remains, Enforced were already way ahead of schedule with the songwriting. Most of the riffs were previously written for this album at the time 2021’s Kill Grid was being released. “Most of it has just been rearranged,” Colby says. “Zach, Will and Alex write all the music, and I do all the lyrics. They have a pretty consistent writing schedule; either once a week, or twice a month. For the next album, we're way ahead of schedule. We were writing riffs and stuff right after Kill Grid. A true development started between the Decibel tour and our European tour in March, April, May of last year, where everything was really starting to solidify. We had to know what we were dealing with prior to even going on tour. But all that touring and all those shows really sharpened the blades, so to speak, with us going into the studio. When it came to actually recording it, it was a breeze because we had been playing so much that we were all kind of locked in and synced in together. So, it wasn't that big of a deal.”
After three full-length albums and countless amounts of live shows, the band have honed their craft while strengthening their bond and musical chemistry between members. “They're my brothers; there's no doubt about that,” Colby admits. “And I think that feeling is mutual for everybody. I think we all kind of understand how each other operates, the pros and cons of everyone's personalities. Notwithstanding mine, we all know how it's going to be at week three into a tour. Everyone's very supportive of one another, and it's a brotherhood; it's a bond. Everyone's really in it for the long haul, and everyone wants to succeed or wants everyone else to succeed. So having those positive tours really light that fire under your ass of wanting to get better and to do better. Touring has always been a positive experience, and I hope it remains that way. Because it's been such a huge impact for me personally, and I'm sure for the rest of the band.”
War Remains is a valid continuation from Kill Grid. However, the 10 menacing tracks have been amped up with even more aggression—if that’s humanly possible. According to Colby, it was just another day at the office when it came to writing the album. “There was no experimentation, to be completely honest,” he says. “We all knew exactly what we were going into or walking into, in terms of knowing the songs and everything. This thing's going to be hard, fast, and real right out of the gate; (it’s) just going to punch you in the face. To overthink it would be to ruin it. It's raw and unpolished for real. And I think that explains or exposes what we were thinking at the time. Of just… here's us; here's how we play. This is us playing at the speed that we're comfortable with, and the visceral nature of it. The aggression, I think, is there.”
The equally tenacious production matches the band’s musical aggression note for note. As with Kill Grid, War Remains was produced and recorded by Ricky Olson and mixed and mastered by Arthur Rizk. The punchy tom toms and the battering snare drum, the knife-edge riffing guitars and the viciously spewed vocals, claw their way out from the listener’s speakers as if it was a caged animal. “Between the rough recordings and the masters, they're not terribly far off,” Colby admits. “Obviously, Arthur mixing and mastering everything creates more volume, a little bit more of a punch, a little bit more of a crunch, and a boom to things. But it's not a drastic difference between the raw files that we recorded with Ricky. It was a breeze to record. I don't want to be in there forever; I don't think anyone does. We don't write in the studio; we come to the studio with the album written and demoed and ready to go.”
Enforced represent the new breed of modern thrash and crossover. The band continue to consistently churn out quality material while giving it their all in the live setting. The band’s trajectory has hit many highs while still allowing for time to grow. Colby feels that he has achieved almost everything he first set out to do with the band. However, Enforced isn’t done yet, as they prepare to take their brand of thrash far into the future.
“I think I’ve achieved everything I ever wanted to achieve in the band three years ago,” Colby confesses. “I’ve done everything I've ever wanted to do out of being in the band. And now that those bucket list items are hit, I have to find new bucket list items. Now, I want to tour Australia; I want to tour Southeast Asia; I want to tour Japan. I want to play shows in Taiwan and New Zealand. I want to play in South America. I want to have a big thrash show in Africa, if that's even possible. I have to make new goals for myself because I've hit every single goal that I've ever wanted since being a kid. I've actually hit those milestones and hit those things that I never thought possible for myself. It seems like the sky's the limit. I'm very curious about what the future holds. Regardless of what it holds, I'm very happy about what I’ve achieved.”
War Remains was released on April 28 via Century Media Records. Get the album here.
Venom Inc., Acid Witch, Enforced tour dates
June 22, 2023 - Trees - Dallas, TX
June 23, 2023 - The Rock Box - San Antonio, TX
June 24, 2023 - Scout Bar - Houston, TX
June 25, 2023 - Jake's Backroom - Lubbock, TX
June 26, 2023 - Rock House - El Paso, TX
June 27, 2023 - 191 Toole - Tucson, AZ
June 28, 2023 - Nile - Phoenix, AZ
June 29, 2023 - House of Blues - San Diego, CA
June 30, 2023 - Whisky A-Go-Go - Los Angeles, CA
July 1, 2023 - Full Circle Brewing - Fresno, CA
July 2, 2023 - DNA Lounge - San Francisco, CA
Venom Inc., Acid Witch, Enforced tour dates
July 5, 2023 - El Corazon - Seattle, WA
July 7, 2023 - Metro Music Hall - Salt Lake City, UT
July 8, 2023 - The Lincoln - Cheyenne, WY
July 9, 2023 - Oriental Theater - Denver, CO