ENFORCED's new album entitled "War Remains" will hardly come down from the top in its genre. The crossover thrashers from Richmond, Virginia continue their frenzied run and outdo themselves every time.
Their singer, Knox Colby answers the questions of Angelos Katsouras, with details both about their new album and about the future plans of the band.
Words are unnecessary, listen to the album, read our review and see below our very nice conversation...
RockOverdose: Knox my sincere congratulations for “War Remains”. It’s my undoubted album of the year so far and I find it very difficult for anything else to top it. What’s your first feelings after its release and how does it feel to see such a globally warm response to it?
KNOX: Thanks Rock Overdose! We’re glad you’re digging the album. Our feelings at the moment are such an immense feeling of gratitude, humility, and achievement. We wrote and released the album we’ve always wanted to make and it’s wonderful to see how much love and support the album has been getting. We can’t thank the fans, new and old, enough.
RockOverdose: “Kill Grid” was so great that after its release, we thought it couldn't get any better or equal. On the other hand, “War Remains” is even faster and heavier. Was it a motive for you to go in this direction from the beginning? Can it really get even better than “War Remains” in the future in your opinion?
KNOX: I think it was a subconscious desire for all of us to outdo ourselves after Kill Grid. Harder, faster, more intense. I think we achieved what we wanted and that’s the best feeling. In terms of looking in the future, “Better” is subjective. That’s up to the listener and to see how the next album fits within all our other material. In short, yes, it can always get better, but I know it’ll sound different.
RockOverdose: Both Enforced and Judiciary are considered bands that alongside Power Trip and High Command, were the ones who gave new life to thrash by including a more crossover approach. Has this fact ever brought a higher feel of responsibility to you on how you will treat your music? How does it feel to be acknowledged as a new driving force in the whole metal scene at the moment?
KNOX: Well to be acknowledged that way is a huge compliment, one that I personally don’t think we’re worthy of, but I’ll accept the praise haha. It’s never been thought of as a “burden of responsibility” . I don't think any of us even think about it in that way. We just write and play what we want to. The fact it’s gone this far is staggering.
RockOverdose: For some reason, “War Remains” is your more straightforward thrash release, and apart from that, the Slayer influence is so undeniable that it becomes an addiction if you will allow me. Since nothing can go wrong with being Slayer-influenced, did you feel it in the air while composing the album or did it just dominate the result without too much thought?
KNOX: Little to no thought when writing. I picked up on the guitar tone in the studio sounds really similar is Seasons in the Abyss slightly. Darker, maybe a little thicker, but if you LOVE Slayer, Sepultura, Demolition Hammer, Obituary, etc. that love will sweat from your pores no matter what you do, so I think it’s just inherent.
RockOverdose: Continuing on the speed vain of the album, I believe your voice is more lethal than ever too, like serving as an extra instrument. Did the speed of the album drive you a little more nuts to sing in this vein, or was it time for you to express yourself even more passionately than you did before?
KNOX: It was more just being warmed up from touring so much. That’s my natural, calloused voice. I didn’t try to do anything unique or special, I did vocals the way I’d been doing nonstop for months and months. It sounds better because there’s no strain, but it still sounds desperate, at least in my opinion.
RockOverdose: “War Remains” is not only perfect as a sum, but also every song and the place it holds in the album, makes the flow so ideal that you can’t help but listening to it again. Do you have any preferences to any new stuff at the moment, like some of the songs means a little more to you?
KNOX: They ALL are fucking awesome to me, in their own peculiar way. I find it difficult to pick one over the other, I like the track sequencing too much. The songs support one another and allow that ease to keep playing it over and over. But, for the sake of conversation, I’ll pick Aggressive Menace, The Quickening, Mercy Killing Fields, Avarice and Ultra-Violence (I know that’s half the album hahaha I CAN’T CHOOSE!).
RockOverdose: Lyrically, the thought while listening to you from “At The Walls” and on is like you “spit” every lyric in the face of the listener. What brings you inspiration for the lyrics and what kind of techniques do you have so you can shout harder and sound threatening, as each lyric you sing sounds like the last thing you’ll ever do?
KNOX: That’s a huge compliment, thank you. I Like to push myself as hard as I can to give the best performance I can give; I don’t want to leave any chips on the table. If we play a show and then all die in a car crash, I’ll know I didn’t half-ass my last show. We give it our all, never phoned in. It might be the last thing I ever do.
RockOverdose: Do you consider yourselves lucky that “Kill Grid” made an impact during the quarantine and now “War Remains” has open ground to make its way to the world out there? Enforced sound like the covid situation worked for the better for them. What is your opinion for the whole thing that happened and how much change did you see in the music industry during its wake?
KNOX: Personally, I didn’t see much change because I didn’t know how it operated prior. We finished recording Kill Grid right as lockdowns started, so our experience with Century Media, Kill Grid, touring super hard, has all been post-pandemic. That being said, I don’t think any of it is luck. It’s hard work and grinding and having faith that you're making the right choices/doing the right tours/creating or finding opportunities/etc. Believe in the music you make and the work you put into it.
RockOverdose: Moving to Century Media must have been a great leap after “At The Walls”. How much safety is offered for a band from a company that knows how to promote it and how much more certain do you feel for your material in the last two records before their release? Would things be somehow different without a big company supporting you?
KNOX: I can’t speak for Century Media, but the only “safety” I felt was being able to reach a much larger audience. From the release of Kill Grid, we learned it was going to be promoted better than we could ever do, we learned we had to make music videos, and we learned what was expected of us; more importantly: what we could achieve. There were no limitations or barriers. With War Remains, we already knew exactly what we were getting into, so it was seamless and easy. That being said, without Century Media releasing Kill Grid and War Remains, we still would have written those albums. Only maybe the album art would be different and the audience would be a lot smaller.
RockOverdose: There are times your voice reminds me of the soul Max Cavalera would put out or the ferocity of Steve Reynolds on the Demolition Hammer albums, but always with your unique touch. Do you focus on the strength of your voice, on the expression or the pronunciation? Which are the key parts for a singer to make it transmitting his energy to the listeners and especially on thrash metal?
KNOX: I’m not the best at it, but “continuity” is key. Find a voice that is comfortable and STRONG. Work on it, develop it, make it a tool and muscle-memory. I can feel when I might be slipping and with either push harder or cut it off early with a pushed effort to make sure it ends strong. Pronunciation is important to me; I know I’m screaming, but I’d like to be as clear as possible. Like, if you didn’t have the lyric sheet in front of you, could you figure out what I’m saying? Maybe bits and pieces, maybe a lot. The key parts are to just bring your best and bring your strongest. Don’t cheapen the music or the feeling.
RockOverdose: “Hanged By My Hand” followed by “Avarice” or the “Hell Awaits” inspired drum break almost at the end of “Empire” are some of the greatest moments of the latest many years. Would it sound silly to suggest to play the whole album on your upcoming gigs, followed by some more past stuff of course? I’m feeling that this time people NEED to listen to all these songs live.
KNOX: I’d love to play the album front to back, but not everyone feels the same way I do haha. We’ve incorporated half of the album into the set, so people will get a nice dose of what they want, new and old.
RockOverdose: Sometimes as a fan you can feel a band is ready to lead the way for others to follow and that’s the feeling Enforced offers us at the moment. How ready are you to have such a burden on your backs, proving people right for you and at the same time, remaining professional without this acceptance drive you nuts at the end?
KNOX: It’s not a burden. It’s a challenge. I can’t force anyone to like my band. All we can do is play our best and you’re either into or you’re not. If you are, I’m glad you’re in the Enforced Army. If you hate it, that’s totally fine, we’ll see you on the battlefield of life.
RockOverdose: Last but not least question. What does this bright future hold for Enforced? Which dreams or wishes would you like to complete at the moment and what keeps you motivated to improve yourselves? Needless to say you must come to Greece to see the crowd lose their minds. Close this interview as you wish and congratulations for making the difference out there in such a convincing way.
KNOX: THANK YOU TO ALL WHO ARE READING THIS! I hope you found something interesting. We want to tour Europe again, but BIGGER. We want to tour Asia and Australia and South/Central America. WE’RE NOT GONNA STOP! WE’RE ENFORCED!
Photo Credit: Jacky Flav