Olof Wikstrand (ENFORCER) on Rock Overdose: “We wanted to play this style for a long time”

With their new album, "Zenith" being released today from Nuclear Blast, Enforcer and Olof Wikstrand are ready to hit the road and spread their heavy metal to their fans. Before that, Rock Overdose and Konstantinos Sotirelis had a great talk with their mainman, Olof, about their new album, the band's past and the future of heavy metal.


Rock Overdose: Hello and welcome to Rock Overdose, Greece! You’re coming with a new album called “Zenith” in a month. How do you feel about this release?

Enforcer: I must say I am very happy with what we’ve achieved. I think we’re very much in line with what we wanted to do before we started this album cycle.


Rock Overdose: Would you like to explain the album title to us and tell us a few words about the album cover?

Enforcer: Well, the title comes from the title track, “Zenith of the Black Sun”, and we wanted something that was a little bit shorter, a little bit more fist-in-your-face kind-of thing… We’ve been discussing before that we wanted one word that could really, like, put the songs in a bigger perspective and “Zenith of the Black Sun” was one of the first title that we came up with. It’s, like, the title we came up with when we were flying somewhere so we kept that for a very long time; I think that was, like, somewhere in 2014. And the album cover… We wanted something really simple and the idea is 100% the artist. I think it gives the album a little bit – can I say – mysterious vibe…


Rock Overdose: Yeah, it’s very dark, I think!

Enforcer: Yeah, dark and mysterious! Those are the keywords we had.


Rock Overdose: That’s good! So, what are the lyrics about this time?

Enforcer: I think every song is very, very different. There’s no, like, red line in the lyrics; it’s like every song is about different things. The lyrics generally go in line with the kind of lyrics we’ve been having before. It’s just that, this time, we’re trying to improve there. We still do the dark kind-of things; I think that’s way more relevant than any, like… To me, having dark lyrics and more serious, more satanic [ones] goes more in line with my personality and my personal views. So, for me, it’s something that is both natural and pretty much the only thing I can relate to when it comes to lyrics.



Rock Overdose: Well, I have heard the album but someone who hasn’t heard it, what should they expect to listen to this time? I think it’s quite different from the previous ones.

Enforcer: I don’t think it’s very different. I think it summarizes pretty much Enforcer in a very good way. It’s a very varied album that has lots of different things to it, but, at the same time, most of these different styles is stuff that we’ve been having before in our music. So it’s really nothing that new, but what you can expect is ten catchy, well-crafted songs.


Rock Overdose: I think that the hard-rock influences are more this time than in your previous albums, am I wrong?

Enforcer: Maybe it’s more hard-rock than “From Beyond” (2015) but it’s not more hard-rock than “Diamonds” (2010), I think.


Rock Overdose: Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s your first album without an instrumental song, right?

Enforcer: It is, yeah! We had an instrumental song but we didn’t think it was good enough when it was finished so we sacked it. It was a very ambitious piece of baroque music, to be honest. It was, like, a piano and guitar thing. [Laughs] Maybe it became a little bit too ambitious…


Rock Overdose: But, you have something with a piano; it’s on your “Regrets” song. I think it’s quite different from what you’ve written so far. How did the idea for this come up?

Enforcer: It was actually the first idea that we had for the album because we wanted to do something that had a bit of a shock value…


Rock Overdose: It’s more experimental, I think…

Enforcer: Well, it’s not very experimental. If you listen to bands like Scorpions, or Judas Priest, or Thin Lizzy, or bands that everyone, older heavy-metal people worship. They have done that kind of stuff so it’s not that unexpected, I think.



Rock Overdose: Maybe it was unexpected for your standards, I think. We weren’t used to listening to these songs on your albums; that’s why I said that.

Enforcer: Yeah, but if you listen to bands- like, even Iron Maiden and Metallica have this kind of songs, and Black Sabbath… All the heavy bands used to have different types of tempos and feels in their songs back in the days and all the albums that we worship so much contain this kind of things. We definitely had a bigger aim of the comprehensive whole of the album. But, yeah, it’s the first time that we do something like that. You don’t want to be predictable; I think that’s pretty boring.

You also asked how this song came to be, and this is a song that Tobias [Lindqvist, bass] had for his super-secret side project called Terminal and we basically decided to do an Enforcer version of it. The first idea was just to, like, “Let’s do something like this because it’s gonna be really provocative for all the stubborn heavy-metal fans, put their heads up their asses,” you know? We wanted to do something that was provocative, I guess, and I love the song. It’s a great song! It’s like a statement: “we do whatever we want, f*ck you!


Rock Overdose: It’s a very good song and I was really excited when I heard it because it wasn’t something that I was expecting from Enforcer. Let’s talk about the single, “Die for the Devil”. What’s the feedback so far, and why did you choose to release this as a single?

Enforcer: The feedback… Well, there’s been mixed feedbacks but we knew that because it was a kind-of provocative thing.


Rock Overdose: I’m pretty sure that you knew that.

Enforcer: Yeah, when we put it out on YouTube, I was, like, “OK, let’s not check any comments now”, even before- not that I think it’s a very… I think it’s something a little bit fresh, but it’s also a little bit something… I mean, it’s close to other things that we’ve been doing before- for example, our song “Running in Menace” from 2010. This is a song that has become legendary and this could be a song in the same style. So I knew it was gonna be a love-it-or-hate-it thing.

Basically, [the reason] why we chose this was to create a reaction, make people discuss things, make people aware that we’re releasing a new album because people will discuss it. When we released “Stellar Plains” from our EP [“Live By Fire” (2015)], which was a very predictable song, people were, like, “Yeah, good,” nothing more. People didn’t care because it was, like, so expected that we did something like that. So I realized that, “F*ck, we gotta do something that is a little bit more unpredictable if we’re gonna make people talk”; it was a fairly easy choice, I think. I’m also really happy with the song. It’s a kind of style that I’ve wanted to play with for a very long time, to do something that’s more in the Scorpions style than just what you would normally expect from us.


Rock Overdose: To tell you the truth, the first time that I heard the song I was kind-of disappointed. It reminded me a lot of Scorpions – I like Scorpions – but I thought that, “This isn’t Enforcer, this isn’t what I expected”.

Enforcer: Exactly! That’s what we wanted!



Rock Overdose: But, when I heard it another time, I said, “Oh, this is a masterpiece”. The chorus was stuck in my head and I was singing the chorus. I’m sure you knew that you would have these comments so do you believe that, when the fans hear the album, they’ll change their minds if they’re disappointed like me when I listened to it for the first time?

Enforcer: Yeah, I don’t care what people think about what I’m doing as long as I am happy with what I’m doing myself. But, at the same time, I think it was mostly Greek people that were disappointed because I also got very good feedback. I mean, Greek people, as much as I love the Greek fans and the Greek audience, are also sometimes – can I say – a little bit stubborn…


Rock Overdose: [Laughs] Yeah, you’re definitely right!

Enforcer: [Laughs] Yeah, there’s the charm with it, as well, but, yeah, not very open-minded for, like, new styles. But they’re like me, I would think.


Rock Overdose: I agree with you! So, it’s been four years since the release of the “From Beyond” album. Why did it take so long for you this time to release a new album?

Enforcer: Well, basically, the reason is that we’ve been very busy touring; that’s the first thing. Then, this album also took an unexpectedly long time to both record/produce and also release. We were actually done with the album in August, but then we had to wait, to find a release date that matched everyone’s schedule. So it’s a lot of things that had to, like, fall in place for this to happen.


Rock Overdose: Have you decided which songs you will play on the tour? I hope that “Searching for You”, “Thunder and Hell” and “The End of a Universe” will be in the list because I think they’re some of the greatest songs you have written so far.

Enforcer: Thank you so much! Yeah, we have rehearsed– we’ve just started to rehearse, actually. We haven’t really nailed the songs that we’re gonna play. I think we will kind-of play our favorites but, then, it also depends on what songs the people will pick up from the album. So it’s very hard to say that right now, but we’ve picked out our favorites so far.



Rock Overdose: Is it hard to pick some songs from the previous albums?

Enforcer: You know, I have my favorites, but, when you’re playing live, as much as I wish that I could pick out some old songs that people hadn’t heard before… But it’s very hard to do that because, if you play songs that the majority of the audience doesn’t recognize, then it’s gonna kill the energy from the audience. So I think we have to focus on the songs that people recognize firstly and then throw in a few wild-cards in there, together with the songs that we’d like to play, as well. There’s a little balance there… I mean, I’m seriously tired of playing “Katana”! I hate that song, but people wanna hear it, so I guess it’s gonna be a bad move for us not to play it.


Rock Overdose: I think that, in Greece, most of the people will definitely want to hear “Katana”.

Enforcer: Well, if you know what I mean, I actually think it’s a bad song. For me, it’s almost like a heavy-metal parody because it’s a song where all the clichés are lined up.


Rock Overdose: I see! I hope you will play “Take Me out of This Nightmare” because it’s absolutely my favorite.

Enforcer: Thank you! Well, we will do your favorite, I think.


Rock Overdose: That’s great! So you’re coming back in Greece this May, I think. How do you feel about coming here again and what should we expect from these shows?

Enforcer: Very happy to come back! Greece has always been our number 1 go-to place.


Rock Overdose: Even if we’re a little stubborn?

Enforcer: [Laughs] We will do a lot of old stuff so I think people will be happy, as well. I mean, we will do a lot of new things and I think the Greek audience will love the album once they hear the entire album.



Rock Overdose: I’m sure about that. When I listened to the album, I thought it’s probably one of the best albums you have released.

Enforcer: Yeah. I think that, for example, the Greek audience, who really love the epic stuff, will love “Zenith of the Black Sun”, “Ode to Death”, and also the fast stuff like “Thunder and Hell”, “Searching for You”… Maybe not the ballad… I think that the Greek people don’t like that kind of thing.


Rock Overdose: I think that they will love the “End of the Universe” because it’s quite melodic. It reminds a lot of “Take Me out of This Nightmare” or “Katana”– this kind of songs. I believe this song will definitely be loved.

Enforcer: We’ve toured in over forty countries and it’s funny to see that different styles work in different areas. You can always tell that, “Oh, the Greek audience will love this song,” and, “Oh, the Germans will like this one,” and “The Swedish will like this,” or “The Mexicans will love this song,” or “Oh, this song will work on the American West Coast”. Hopefully, all the people will like all the songs! You never know; you can’t please everyone. As long as you please, I think that’s…


Rock Overdose: That’s the most important thing.

Enforcer: Yeah!


Rock Overdose: What’s your opinion on the direction that metal has nowadays? Are there any good new heavy-metal bands now?

Enforcer: Unfortunately, I think that the metal scene is in a very, very critical condition. It’s very shitty. If you ask me, it’s basically because the entire metal scene is built upon the old thing. People are only impressed by old bands, and they are not interested in new bands and they don’t see new bands. We have a really hard time to, like… We can never really compete with the older bands because there’s the factor of nostalgia with people. Thus, I feel that people don’t give new bands a chance at all.

But I also think that new bands are very… There’s a few good new bands but the majority – let’s say 95% of all the new heavy-metal and metal bands – are so busy with trying to live up to the rules of playing a specific genre. It’s almost like it’s getting parodic, you know? It’s like they’re making fun, or making a parody of the genre that they play because they desperately try to live up to everything within the genre. Heavy-metal bands– it’s like they, except for a few ones, are just trying to play ten different versions of “Aces High” or “Livin’ after Midnight” or some sh*t like that. You know, it’s nothing interesting so it’s like they’re making a parody out of it…

And the old bands, they’re doing the same thing nowadays. In the ‘90s, they were a little bit experimental even though it was terrible, but at least they had the drive within themselves to do something and to develop but, now, they’re just, like, making fun of themselves.

You know, the latest Metallica album was, like, so f***ing bad. People loved it but, for me, I wrote better fresh metal when I was twelve years old. It has no inspiration and it’s like they’re making a parody of themselves. The latest Judas Priest album? The same. People loved it but, to me, it’s f***ing terrible. There’s nothing interesting with it. It’s super-generic sh*t. It sounds like a Judas Priest cover band to me. You know? No identity; nothing, it’s so boring. There’s, like, no room for development in the metal scene and people are only interested in that stuff.

It’s just a matter of years. It’s something that retrowaves and, everytime a retrowave is coming back, it’s getting weaker and weaker. I think that metal and heavy-metal will, eventually, be something that will be strongly associated to the 1970s and 1980s. It’s just like jazz music is today; like, totally in the 1960s music style. Kids don’t listen to that sh*t anymore.



Rock Overdose: On the other hand, there are some new bands that have a completely different sound but they still call themselves metal- for example, Ghost. What’s your opinion?

Enforcer: Well, I love Ghost and I think they’re great. I think they’re an amazing band because they dare and they do really great songs.


Rock Overdose: I think that they’re very melodic and their melodies are very clever.

Enforcer: Yeah, exactly!


Rock Overdose: That’s all! Thank you very much for this interview! It was a great honor for me! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. The last words are yours.

Enforcer: See you in Athens and Thessaloniki in May! It will be a hell of a show!


Rock Overdose: That’s great! Thank you so much! We can’t wait for these shows!

Enforcer: Thank you very much! I’ll see ya!


For the Rock Overdose Webzine,

Interview: Konstantinos Sotirelis

Tapescript: Stergios Gkoutsidis