Posted on by Oran

Few bands can harness a level of brutality that Enforced have been known to summon up when experienced live. With their third studio album, ‘War Remains’ about to be unleashed to the world on April 28th, vocalist Knox Colby tells us how they managed to capture that live aggression in the studio…

Clocking in at just 32 minutes, Enforced have created an album that is as vicious and brutal as anything that was released in the mid-to-late ’80s, and if you don’t believe us, just take a hit of their recently released singles.

Speaking from his home in Richmond, Virgina, vocalist, Knox Colby has been doing press all day, and albeit tired, is visibly excited to talk about the bands new album, ‘War Remains‘, and the circumstances around the intensity that the band managed to capture during the recording process…

OD – Let’s begin with the creation period for this new album. At what point did these songs start coming together, or were there a few ideas hanging around from the ‘Kill Grid’ [2021] sessions?

KNOX – The only song that was left over from previous sessions was ‘Nation of Fear‘, and that was from our original demo. It never really fit onto to anything that we had done in the past, but it just sits so well on the side B of this new album.

We’ve only played that song a few times live, and to be honest, it never really fit into our set. So, to finally have a home for it, is so awesome. Other than that, after we released ‘Kill Grid‘, we never stopped writing/recording. It’s just a natural, organic creative process that follows on from each song, or album, or whatever.

The rest of the guys in the band have hit this rich vein of working together, and it’s just connected with the entire ethos of what Enforced is about. The stuff they are working on now is allegedly insane. I’ve not heard the ideas yet, but they have told me that they are already two to three songs in for the next album! I trust those guys, and I don’t fuck with their formula [Laughing]

OD – You had said that it came together without over-thinking it. What led you on this path, and would it be right to assume that this was a result of ‘Kill Grid’. It was mentioned in the press release that a lot of over analyzation was involved during the making of that album. Did you feel that this was a much more ‘relaxed’ album to record, despite it being one of the most aggressive in the bands history?

KNOX – The difference in making the last album to this one, was night and day. We had just come off the road with At The Gates, and two days later we were in the studio recording.

We came in hot from the road, and were super warmed-up, and in the zone, so we just ripped it out. We were already playing ‘War Remains‘ on that tour, (for shits and giggles), so we knew exactly that to do. We asked ourselves; “Do we really need to analyse each song like we did on the last album?

In my honest opinion, this is the closest recording we’ve done in a studio that resembles what we sound like live. There’s even a couple of fuck-up’s…don’t care. It’s raw, brutal, and in your face, which is just the way we want to be. It doesn’t need to be polished, and perfect because that’s just not who we are as a band.

Our producer, Ricky [Olson] encouraged us to keep it real, keep it raw. He would say things like; “That may not have been the best take, but if sounded fucking sick!” [Laughing]. We were in and out of the studio for a total of about five or six days. We did drums, and guitars in one day!!! No click track, no fucking around. Just us in there ripping it out as live as we possibly could. That’s what Enforced are best at doing.

The best Thrash/Death albums in history, sound like that. Kind of like the wheels are about to fall off, because they are playing so fast. That’s the essence of pure brutality, and this new album has got that in spades. When the guys were recording we would be in the both saying; “When are they gonna fuck up?…they’re playing so fast….when are they gonna fuck up? ahhhh they made to the end of the track!” It was like that. The pure aggression, the intensity, and raw brutality was captured on tape, and it will lift the skin off your face, it’s so heavy!

As soon as the recording was completed, we had to go back out on tour with Undeath, and 200 Stab Wounds, so, instead of just sitting around, and looking at everything under a microscope, we just got down to business, and made this wonderfully brutal album. The fact that we didn’t have to think about everything too much opened this creative portal, We were just like; “let’s just go in there and fucking do this. Get the fuck outta there, and hit the road again“. And that’s exactly what we did.

OD – You could almost say the pre-studio warm-up was the shows with At The Gates

KNOX – 100% correct! My voice was so loose and ready by the time I was laying down the vocals. You can totally hear it on each track. I still had a pretty callused-up [sic] throat, and I was ready to go. A few people that I’ve spoken to who have heard the album, reckon my voice sounds very different to our previous albums. The truth is, that’s how I sound when I’m touring, and my vocal cords are fired-up, and ready.

OD – Of course, the previous album ‘Kill Grid’ came out at the tail end of the pandemic, and as a result, you didn’t really get to tour that album like you had envisioned. Of course, there were a few European/UK shows in place that you had to pull out of. Talk us through that period, and what happened when you decided to come back home?

KNOX – It was insanely expensive and way more than we estimated. We barely came back in the red from Europe. We were up by like, $15, buy hey, at least we were not down $15! [Laughing]. There was really nothing we could do with the timing of ‘Kill Grid‘, as the Pandemic lockdowns really were a stick in the spokes. We just had to surge forward, and it was a decision that we had to make for the good of the band. It was a learning curve, that’s for sure.

Thankfully, as soon as things started opening up again, we jumped into a tour with Exhumed, Creeping Death, and Bewitcher, followed by a US tour with Obituary, and then gearing up for Europe, then At The Gates, then 200 Stag Wounds…so even though we were playing loads of shows, we still missed out on marketing/touring the album cycle for ‘Kill Grid‘, and it was time to just move on to the next one, which is exactly what we did.

OD – I know that Hellfest was probably the biggest gig you’ve played in Europe to date, and you were booked for Bloodstock, but sadly, as you’ve already explained, that didn’t happen. Despite that unfortunate decision to have to pull out that European/UK tour, would it right in saying that a lot of lessons were learned from that experience?

KNOX – Yes, know know how it all works [Laughing]. We went into that tour bright-eyed, and bushy-tailed like; “Wow, everything sounds great!” [Laughing]. But little did we know how things operated in that environment. From day-t0-day logistics, to travel etc, we learned so much on that tour. As shitty as it was that we had to cut the tour short, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I just wish that we could have stayed out there longer, and achieved all the goals that we wanted to achieve.

I know we’ll get another crack at the whip, but we just have to be patient, and make sure that we have things planned out a little more. There are some things already on the table for this year, and we have this new album on the way, so I can’t complain. We’ve achieved a lot under the circumstances.

OD – You mentioned that the guys are working on new material, so, with that in mind, would there be a consideration for a new album in early ’24, or even an EP in the near future?

KNOX – No, that’s not the way we want to do things. We would like to do it the way ‘Kill Grid‘ was intended. Put the album out, and tour it for about a year. I have to see what the guys think, but it’s very early days right now, and we have to get this album out first! It may even take me two years to write the lyrics for it! [Laughing]

 OD –  As you’ve already mentioned, Enforced have had the pleasure of sharing stages with the likes of Obituary, Exhumed, and Municipal Waste, (to name but a few). I’m sure this has just heightened your appetite for touring with more bands. Are there any other bands that we can expect to see you guys touring with this year?

KNOX – Dude, we just signed up for a tour this coming Summer, and it’s something that I’d never have even considered before. It’s not been announced just yet, but when it was presented to us, I was like; “That is fucking sick! I never would have thought of touring with this band“, and that really got me thinking the sky’s the limit.

If there are any bands that are reading this, and you’re in an old-school Metal band, then hit me up, as I’d love to hang out and hear all the old war stories. The bottom line is, we just want to tour as much as possible, and with as many bands as possible. Enforced are very much a live band, and we thrive in that environment.

 OD – The fusion of Death/Thrash that Enforced produce is certainly gathering momentum since the release of ‘At The Walls’ [2019], and ‘Kill Grid’ [2021], do you feel that you’re moving more towards the extreme end of those genres, or is there a conscious decision to keep some kind of a balance?

KNOX – I think, ‘Kill Grid‘ was the album that really put us on course. I think we made a few errors with some of the songs being a little too long and then, there’s the use of some additional atmospheric samples that we used. Now, when I listen to that record, I feel that perhaps we really didn’t need to use those.

With ‘War Remains‘, I feel that we have nailed our true sound. It’s just such a fast, heavy album, and it’s not too long. It clocks in at 32 minutes and the minute it ends…well at least for me, I’m like; “What do you mean it’s over, I wanna hear it again” [Laughing].

OD – When you look at the extreme music that’s being made today, especially within the Death Metal genre, do you think that overall, it just needs to be simplified somewhat, and not be so focused on who can be the most brutal, the fastest etc? An example of that would be how amazing the new Obituary album is. It’s just pure unadulterated heavy Death Metal… but with no bullshit.

KNOX – Hmm, yeah, I don’t know if it’s just that some bands are trying to out-do each other with how fast and technical they can make their music, but for me, when that happens, I feel there’s an ingredient that is lost in the mix. You are exactly right when it comes to the new Obituary album. Those guys are masters of just being super-heavy, but not overdoing it, and making their music incredibly complicated. We never approached music that way.

I just think the bar is set really high for young, up-and-coming bands. Take Creeping Death for example, those guys are smoking live. They are so fucking good. They are one of those bands’ that you just don’t want to follow them, but then again, they say to us; “We don’t want to follow Enforced! They rip the roof off the place!

I feel sorry for some of the headliners that are out there because there are some truly incredible young bands that are coming up in the Heavy scene. At the end of the day, it’s a good thing, especially for the fans.

OD – Can we expect to see Enforced back over this side of the world later this year, or in 2024?

KNOX – At this point in time, I can’t go into details but I’ll say 2024 will be more likely for EU/UK dates. Watch this space…

Enforced will release ‘War Remains‘ via Century Media on April 28th. Pre-order your copy via this link.

Oran O’Beirne

www.overdrive.ie 2023