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Review by Vladimir on May 10, 2023.
Finally, this is the moment I’ve been patiently waiting for. There was no telling how much excited I was about this release for quite some time, and yet here we are at last. Swedish heavy metal legends Enforcer have released their sixth full-length album Nostalgia on May 5th via Nuclear Blast Records. Enforcer has gained such a reputation for being one of the biggest heavy metal acts of the 2000s, with an enormous fanbase that altogether keep the oldschool spirit alive and breathing, which I think should easily earn them the title “Defenders of Faith”. I think it comes as no surprise that they’re such a big thing considering the fact that Sweden has managed to export so many great bands of both rock and metal over the years, with Enforcer obviously being another fresh and beautiful branch on Sweden’s great musical tree. You can probably tell that I had very high expectations for this one just like many other heavy metal maniacs worldwide. Even though people mostly consider their previous album Zenith to be a “hit or miss” thing, I think that everyone will agree with me that the hype towards Enforcer remains just as strong if not stronger with the amount of support that they get from their loyal fanbase. Obviously, there were many positive reactions coming from their previously released singles, all of which promised that Enforcer will deliver. Did Enforcer manage to stand and deliver this glorious Nostalgia? Let’s find out!
Starting off with the first track 'Armageddon', which is a synthwave-like instrumental intro backed up by guitar melodies and drums, serves as a nice build up for the second track 'Unshackle Me'. Once the second track begins, heavy metal breakdown starts rocking out with catchy guitar riffing, where Olof’s vocals are singing in a very quiet voice during the verse with a very particular style and rhythm which reminded me of Def Leppard’s “Let It Go”. His singing suddenly changes to his signature high vocals as the ride goes on, but the best part storms in with a wild guitar solo after the second chorus. The third track 'Coming Alive' is to put it simply, nothing but a pure and wild heavy/speed metal action expressed in fast riffing and drumming, going full speed ahead and burning like fire. The fourth track 'Heartbeats' is a bit tender on the first half with acoustic guitars in the verse and mid-tempo rock and roll, while on the second half it goes full on 80’s heavy metal revival which is obviously Enforcer’s crème de la crème. The sixth track 'Kiss Of Death', although not being a cover of Dokken’s song, I find particularly interesting for musically resembling something that could have easily been on Judas Priest’s "Defenders Of Faith" album. Many have already heard and spoken about the power ballad 'Nostalgia', the seventh track on this album. The song mostly expresses very tender but powerful emotions in acoustic guitar verses, Olof’s vocals and melodic guitar solos full of feels, which really hasn’t been a thing from mainstream rock or metal bands for the past 30 or so years, or at least it wasn’t on the same level as it once was. Although the ballad provides a big swing of emotions, I think that the song is a good moment for the listeners to catch their breath for a short period before being able to continue with all that rock and roll. The tenth track 'Metal Supremacia', which is my personal favorite, definitely deserves the award for the heaviest and strongest track on this album that in my opinion beats the living hell out of 'Coming Alive' for being an even bigger thunder and lightning, and I think many will agree that this song is fire. Personally, I was expecting to mostly hear that good old traditional heavy metal from start to finish, but I actually found myself quite stunned and amazed after experiencing such a range of emotions and a clear sense of “nostalgia”, which obviously explains the album title. The album sure does sound like nostalgia if you ask me, because Enforcer is one of a dozen exceptional bands of the modern era that live and breathe 80’s heavy metal, and in their case, it has been so for the past 15 or so years ever since they became a huge hit. The album has a total of 13 tracks with a total length of nearly 42 minutes, but the best thing is that it doesn’t feel like it’s too long or that the music starts dragging after the second half. Even though this album deserves all the praise for its catchiness, simplicity and musicality, what I believe should also be praised on this album is the factor of consistency, especially for keeping each track relevant and strong. Production-wise it’s an excellent sounding album, well-balanced to the point where everything is clean and precise, without sounding thin or overproduced.
I think that in the end, it comes as no surprise that this album is an absolute banger and a deliverer of all that Enforcer promised. I can say for sure that Nostalgia is the rare case of “all killer no filler”, because every track on this album is great and personally nothing comes close to a disappointment. Enforcer is almost 20 years old now, and this is a great album to celebrate the band’s 20th anniversary next year, possibly with a world tour. I was really having a bad week, but as this album came out on Friday, it was just the right time to fix everything and help me forget all the bad things that were poisoning my head. Hopefully this album will find you in a better shape than I was, but most importantly, I hope that this album will set things right for you and let you experience the nostalgic wonders of heavy metal like it was the first time. Oldschool maniacs like myself will definitely admire this album and consider it as one of Enforcer’s holy grails that will give strength and heart to the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal.
Rating: 9.6 out of 10705