ENFORCER
"Into the Night"

(Heavy Artillery)

01. Black Angel
02. Mistress from Hell
03. Into the Night
04. Speed Queen
05. On the Loose
06. City Lights
07. Scream of the Savage
08. Curse the Light
09. Evil Attacker

RATING: 8/10

Heavy Artillery Records just keeps on delivering the goods. After a run of righteous vintage thrash albums, the label has now unleashed one in the traditional heavy metal vein, albeit a disc with a significant speed metal element. On "Into the Night", Sweden's ENFORCER stomp on the gas pedal and race through nine tracks packed with guitar heroics and catchy melodies that will take you back to heavy metal's salad days.

Listening to "Into the Night", one wonders why a band like ENFORCER is not every bit as revered (and successful sales-wise) as DRAGONFORCE. Then again, who is to say they will not be? However, don't confuse DRAGONFORCE's "extreme power metal" shredding with ENFORCER's more genuine, song-based approach, although there is no lack of six-string firepower on "Into the Night". Perhaps an ENFORCER song will be added to the Guitar Hero play list, sending sales of "Into the Night" into the stratosphere. But I digress (and ramble).

The formula on each of these tracks is not a complicated one. Take a great riff, a quick 'n hooky chorus, a blazing (yet classy) solo, and crank up the tempo. The one exception would be a grand instrumental called "City Lights" that is just as relevant as the other eight tracks; in other words, you'll not want to press the "skip" button when it hits. It is also a prime example of the early IRON MAIDEN influence heard throughout "Into the Night". Don't be distracted by the higher-range (but not in a nauseatingly air raid siren sense) singing of Olof Wikstrand in measuring the weight of that influence. Just imagine the songs without Wikstrand and instead drop in Paul Di'Anno's voice and you'll note that it fits with the riffing and galloping bass lines, not to mention that indefinable vibrancy characteristic of the early material, including some of the Dickinson albums.

The comparisons don't stop with MAIDEN though. Just as prevalent are the sounds of MERCYFUL FATE (the ability to write killers riffs), as well as a cross section of groups representative of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The trust test of a band like ENFORCER is whether an album like "Into the Night" would hold its own against some of the better NWOBHM releases of the 1980s. Listening to songs such as "On the Loose", "Black Angel", and "Speed Queen", I'd have to answer in the affirmative. It wouldn't have gone down in history as a watershed release, but it would have stood the test of time.

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