Enforcer have returned after four years with their new record titled Zenith. By now, it’s clear that it’s stirred up a handful of different reactions. Some can’t stand the poppier and catchier approach that they’ve taken, as it abandons the speed metal roots that Enforcer started with. Others don’t see this as an issue, as it’s simply nothing more than a band doing what they want to do, rather sticking to the same formula for every record. I stand on the latter side, as I view it as a solid mix reminiscent of Dokken, Stryper, and Manowar all put together.
For starters, it isn’t a total departure, because earlier records did have the accessible means that this one does, especially Diamonds. Songs like the single “Die For The Devil” cast a safe shadow, by invoking a prettier approach with vocal harmony that shines bright. Others like the following track “Zenith Of The Sun” tackle a more firm foundation. This one is the strongest tune on the entire disc, reeling in a speedy bridge, concise soloing, and stomping rhythms. “Thunder From Hell” is the closest song to familiar territory, as it boosts everything into overdrive with speed metal riffs from start to finish.
Dialing in this type of effort is going to make for a lot of powerful passages. “Forever We Worship The Dark” is built on very passionate vocals and contains some rumbling basslines, all garnished with howling backing vocals. Despite that, it’s still delivered with a very welcoming aura. Whether that’s truly what they “used to be” or not, it’s well written, as are most of these songs. Even a ballad titled “Regrets” sneaks in, which throws back to a combo of the ‘80s power ballad fused with something along the lines of Manowar’s “Courage.” The piano section in that tune is beautiful.
I will admit, this isn’t a perfect record. There are some parts that sound a bit forced or run-of-the-mill, such as the majority of “The End Of A Universe.” Not horrible, but there’s an awkward underlying feeling that lacks a transition from the verses to the chorus. Closer “Ode To Death” runs on too much and probably could have been tossed. Very minor complaints, but itches that had to be scratched.
Zenith is packed with vocal range, splitting solos, chops, and intricate guitar numbers that are anything but bad. Backlash is obviously bound to take place when a band jumps the shark, but everything present is musically pleasant to the ear. I always appreciate a band trying something like this, because that’s what keeps it fun. A good album is a good album, whether it’s what they’re known for or not.
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