Adrenaline soaked power chords build up into a devastating crescendo and anticipation grows as a plectrum slide leads into the first riff, a blend of the burgeoning NWOBHM style twinned with punk rock aggression. Shrill vocals start as a devastatingly fast drum beat kicks in. Thus begins Enforcer’s newest album ‘Death by Fire’. Of course, if you thought I was talking about Metallica’s ‘Hit the Lights’ then you can probably see the fundamental problem with ‘Death by Fire’ – it’s all been done thirty years ago, and far better at that.
But maybe I’m being a bit harsh? Comparing such a young band as Enforcer with Metallica – the BIGGEST Heavy Metal band of all time, could be seen as grotesquely unfair, and you’d be right. Because that’s not my main problem with ‘Death by Fire.’ Yes, it may be attempting to do something already done 30 years ago but should this be criticised? There are plenty of bands currently around like, for example ‘Evile’ who, it should probably be said (and I think they’d be the first to admit it) are hardly doing anything revolutionary. The problem with ‘Death by Fire’ is one of familiarity – it’s not that it’s heavily influenced by Kill ‘em All. I’m sure the vast majority of metal bands within the past 20 years have a little bit of Metallica to their sound, it just sounds as though the riffs have been taken DIRECTLY from an album 30 years old, rehashed a little, and jammed together into ‘Death by Fire’s’ songs.
Although the album does move away from the straight up Metallica aping in its second half it merely moves into the realms of the listener comparing each subsequent section to another, older, more established and better band. It’s an album that you listen to, pointing out all the influences in the music rather than actually enjoying the music for what it is. If I were to go for a cheap comparison, I’d probably compare ‘Death By Fire’ to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest film – it’s all been done before and you know it’s all been done before, but if you enjoy it then you’ll probably have a good enough time yet, at heart, its only rehashing the same old forumla.
I don’t think Enforcer set out to make Kill ‘em All 2 at all, they’ve just strayed far too close to what’s already been done as opposed to taking their influences and developing a fresh sound. Just look at Evile’s last album – ‘Five Serpents Teeth.’ You’d be forgiven for thinking the CD came with a free patch to sew onto your denim jacket (and it probably did) but it’s still distinctive enough to stand aside from its influences. Unfortunately on ‘Death by Fire’ Enforcer have not managed to separate themselves from their influences and it really shows.