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Top 2019 Records: inspirations by crossover thrashers ENFORCED!

ENFORCED band
ENFORCED by Tom Barbee
It’s always hard to believe that it’s still possible to take the oldschool formula, get inspired by the original sound of a genre and come back with rejuvenated energy and a jaw-dropping offering that’s well worth blasting out of your stereo. ENFORCED‘s “At The Walls” LP did just that and gave us top-quality crossover thrash. The goup have found a way to excite by pulling from the past, and put out hand down one of the greatest record in the genre in recent years. To celebrate it, we asked the band’s vocalist Knox to share his top records of the year and some additional commentary how this year went for the band. Voilà.

Formed in 2016, Richmond’s ENFORCED picks up where Sepultura and Cro-Mags left off and infuses their own volatile, hardcore fury into the hardcore/thrash crossover sound of the late ’80s. Fronted by a voice that could only belong to that of a madman and unloading nonstop blazing riffs and pummeling breakdowns in every track, the band demolishes everything in their path, leaving a trail of smoldering wreckage and pure decimation anywhere they perform.

ENFORCED ‎– At The Walls LP is oit now on WAR Records!

2019 was a very fast year. Enforced went on three tours, put out a record, and made our first music video all the while writing and demoing for a release next year. 2019 treated us well and it was wonderful to meet new people and see friends all across North America. The biggest change for us has been, in my opinion, focus. We’ve honed our live shows on the road as well as local shows and we have a laser focus on what we need to get done in order to progress and keep marching onward. We have a lot of irons in the fire for next year; one immediately being our first full US tour with Red Death in January. We’ll be lodged in the studio right after that to record another full length (we’ll be playing some new songs on that tour as well).

To be clear, these are in no particular order. These records are the ones that impacted me the most this year and I’ll be listening to and listening back to for years and years to come. All can be found on streaming services or hosts like YouTube, Bandcamp, or Spotify. – Knox (vocalist)

Swans – Leaving Meaning.

This came out while we were on tour. I listened to it while driving hours through a terrible storm, which paired incredibly well with how eerie and chilling this album is. Michael Gira is an incrediblely capable songwriter and producer. It’s better than what I initially expected and has some pretty great hairpin turns throughout the record while also being so hypnotizing.

Favorite Song: The Hanging Man

Darkthrone – Old Star

Old Star initially missed me but I’ve been jamming a lot since September and I love it. It’s so rudimentary metal and accessible, in my opinion. I’m listening for the fourth time today as I type this! Hardship of the Scots has an great riff that reminds me of something Jake E Lee may have written, but with a more Norwegian caveman approach to it. A great back-to-basics band and album.

Favorite Song: The Hardship of the Scots

Big Brave – A Gaze Among Them

Big Brave popped up on my radar only recently, but WOW what an album. It reminds me of Young Widows but bigger and better in some aspects. It’s interesting how simple the songs are and even seem to progress while playing the same note for minutes. My mind really loves wandering and pondering while this album is playing as loud as possible. Robin Wattie has a great voice.

Favorite Song: Sibling

Copperhead – Gazing in the Dark

David Leonard has a serious addiction to rhythm. Gazing in the Dark’s tone, anger and momentum drop like hot acid. Gazing was put out by Purple Tape Pedigree in September and is one of my top releases of recent years. The perfect blend of industrial, noise rock, and psychedelia allows you to hear something different with every listen. Leonard is a perpetual lyrical inspiration for me and can can make mince meat out of a drum set too. This release is an absolute necessity.

Favorite Song: A tie between Sugar Daddy on Fire, Tangled Mess, Serotonin, and High Production Land…. yeah, it’s that good.

No/No – Diagnostic

A band that has smashed Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the passed five years gracefully hung up the towel this year, but not before making their last show their record release for Diagnostic (an awesome move, in my opinion). This was a perfect upbeat and punky summer release to drive fast and loose to. Catchy with lyrics and hooks that you can’t help but repeat throughout the day, the album is a fitting finale. Songs you can fall in love with, driving songs, singalongs, some songs feel authentically retro and others are polished and new. It’s damn near a perfect pop release for 2019!

Favorite Song: tie between Factory Reset and The Whistleblower

Lingua Ignota – Caligula

Kristen Hayter’s newest output is the most abrasive and beautiful album to come out this year. She is a master at her craft. Blending classical music with hard noise isn’t something I’d find myself listening to a lot, but Caligula and her previous album, All Bitches Die, are compelling and rich with the anger, spite and honesty I crave. It’s awesome (in the biblical sense) and powerful how Hayter weaves order and chaos together into a concise piece. Listen and be aghast.

Favorite Song: Spite Alone Holds Me Aloft

The Berries – Berryland

This album came to my attention from a passing suggestion and wasn’t what I expected. It’s a cool, calm and collect approach to Americana but fresh for 2019. The Berries go for a few psychedelic approaches, but don’t seem drug fueled or obsessed; I’ll call them tastefully impaired. It’s a great album for numerous occasions, whether social or solo. I had this album on repeat for a straight week and digested as many berries as I could stomach. It was delicious I suggest you take a bite.

Favorite Track: tie between Makes Me Sick and Fruit

Dead Heat – Certain Death

Certain Death is everything you could want from a thrashy hardcore record. Direct, angsty, slick guitar tone with wild solos and FAST. Enforced have had the privilege of playing numerous shows and a small tour with Dead Heat. They’re close friends, top notch musicians and people who put on a killer fun live show. This album shows a maturity and growth for them with promise for the future. I’m excited for what’s next for Dead Heat.

Favorite Song: Last Rites

High Command – Beyond the Wall of Desolation

Welcome to Riff City, USA. Population: High Command. BTWOD is an album steeped in lyrical mythology and nonstop stomping music. It is unrelenting in it’s war-of-attrition-esque approach to kick your head in. It’s hard, it’s mean, it’s metal. We finished our first tour with them in early November after after playing a burrito bar together on my birthday years ago. I’ve kept High Command in high praise ever since and will support my friends in their quest for world domination.

Favorite Song: The Commander’s Code

Mizmor – Cairn

A self reflective and inward looking band, Mizmor contemplate worth, god, existence, and ultimately, demise in Cairn. After listening and stewing with it, the album cover is perfect for the tone and circumstance Mizmor finds itself in. It is bleak, stark, and windswept bereft of life. In complementary contrast to the artwork, the album has quite a cold outlook. It haunting and beautiful at the same time. I’ve been a quiet fan of A.L.N for five or six years now and this is a top tier release for him. If you’re interested in Bell Witch or Black Boned Angel, this album is meant to be heard by you.

Photo by Angela Owens

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