February 18, 2016
The Masquerade (Hell)
Ever since laying ears on their 2015 release, From Beyond, Enforcer has taken over a huge ass chuck of my little metal heart. With their relentless, fire fueled NWOTHM sound, Enforcer, in my opinion, is leading the pack but there was one thing I missing: the live show. I needed to see these guys live just to see if they could take it over the top for me and really solidify themselves as a top tier band. Their albums are so fucking good that it was close but, again, I needed to see it live for myself. You know how it is, sometimes bands give you that feeling on record but then you see them live and they just don’t quite hit the mark. With that being said, while I was really excited to finally see Enforcer, there was a bit of nervousness. Would they live up to my expectations?
First up on the bill was Cali based thrash/death/shred band, Exmortus. Exmortus is a band that I have been hearing a lot about and honestly, I never really gave them a listen. Being that I never really gave them much of a listen, I was actually really intrigued to see them live. The band hit the stage with a 30 minute set that left me completely underwhelmed but, judging from the reaction of the crowd, did a really great job. There was really nothing about the band that stands out as memorable aside from their cover of “Moonlight Sonata (Act 3).” Ok, I get it. You guys can shred. While these guys are obviously extremely talented players, I just got nothing more out of them to take away and make me a fan. They definitely were a tolerable opening act which is more than I can say for a lot of other bands.
Much like Exmortus, Warbringer is a band that I have never seen before but I heard so much about. Knowing that I was going to see them live, I decided to go into the blindly to see just what kind of impression Warbringer would make on me. Well, in all honesty, I just wasn’t all that impressed with the band’s songs but goddamn what an amazing band to watch. While they weren’t the shredheads that Exmortus was, Warbringer definitely worked the stage like seasoned veterans. I just wish I would’ve liked their songs as much as I liked their performance. Maybe I will change my opinion on them if I give them a listen now that I’ve seen them live but again, they were such an awesome band to watch live that I just felt their performance eclipsed their songs. Warbringer is the kind of band that I could see myself enjoying in a opening act setting while never really being a fan of. All in all, it was an exciting performance packed full of energy and forgettable songs.
That venue was about 1/2 full at this point but I could feel an energy in the air. There was definitely a classic 80’s metal vibe to this evening. Decked out in black t-shirts, studded bracelets and gauntlets, and a look of anticipation and excitement on all their faces, I could tell that this was without a doubt an Enforcer crowd. This wasn’t an audience that was just there to see some trendy band or what not. This was a crowd that were diehards and they were ready to pay their allegiance to Enforcer. Even Enforcer’s merch were priced at 80’s metal prices. Hell, it was 1980-something the last time I even saw a tour shirt priced at $10.00. Yes, you heard me right… TEN FUCKING DOLLARS. At that unbeatable price I grabbed me a tour shirt and made my way to the front of the stage and awaited Enforcer.
When the lights went out, the nearly 1/2 full room erupted with a roar that was 5x bigger than the size of the crowd. Enforcer took the stage like a fucking tornado launching right into “Destroyer” from their latest album, From Beyond. The crowd was absolutely apeshit as fists where thrust into the air and bodies stared shifting from side to side thanks to the rowdy bunch of metalheads that could barely contain themselves. Right out the gates I was floored by sheer musicianship of this band and the amount of fire, energy, and passion that these guys were putting forward. Before I could even catch my breath the band was going right into “Undying Evil” which once again had the audience singing along with every word as they pumped their fists and moshed around like a bunch of spastic children.
With a setlist list that played out somewhat like an anthology of Enforcer’s strongest material, the rabid audience was treated to songs such as “Live for the Night”, “Take Me Out of This Nightmare”, and the stellar title track from the band’s latest album, “From Beyond.” This song in particular got a really amazing response from the crowd as everyone sang along but it was “Death Rides This Night” that really had me feeling floored. Lead singer/guitarist Olof Wikstrand is hands down one of the greatest lead men on the scene. He has such a magnetic and captivating presence that he manages to just hold the audience in the palm of his hand with ease. Bassist Tobias Lindkvist runs the stage like a club version of Steve Harris while guitarist Joseph Tholl makes room for him while ripping out shredding harmony leads with Wikstrand. The band closed out their hour long set with two crowd favorites, “Katana” and “Midnight Vice” and as the band exited the stage there wasn’t an unmelted face in the crowd. I felt absolutely exhausted and my arm was killing me from thrusting it in the air all night.
Watching Enforcer perform live is a truly remarkable and unforgettable experience. Enforcer is one of those bands that have me scratching my head and asking that musical question, “Why aren’t these guys fucking huge?” This show was a show of epic arena proportions played with an electrifying energy and fire that could barely, if at all, contained by the small room that they were playing. It’s shows like this that make a fan out of someone who may not have been in the beginning and an even bigger fan of those that were already fans. As for me, Enforcer undoubtedly took it over the top and proved themselves to be a way better live band that I even imagined they would be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but it’s shows like this that make me proud to be a of a band.