Even though the band has only been in existence since 2016, Richmond, Virginia’s Enforced is climbing up the ranks fast and steadily growing a loyal fan base among those into extreme metal.
No easy feat, the band has managed to stand out in a region that is well established for having a thriving aggressive music community. Part of that overall health is the communal nature of the scene. “I would say that it never ends here, the extreme music scene is great in Richmond, for punk and metal,” vocalist Colby Knox said.
“For years we have had lots of bands and smaller labels supporting; there is always a crop of newer bands and established bands it has been a revolving door. Some of the bands make it bigger like of course GWAR and Lamb of God, but also there are bands from Richmond who do well like Municipal Waste, Iron Regan, Cannabis, and Windhand, and it’s nice to see them catapult and tour the world and make a living off it. It’s amazing. There are a lot of people to look up to. We can talk to them. They are in the crowds at the shows we go to as well.”
Enforced is preparing to celebrate the release of a new album on Century Media, the band’s second full-length, out March 12th - Kill Grid. Knox dove into the heady direction of the record, an emphatic affront rooted in self-preservation. “This is not a concept album at all, but there is a theme of oppression, persistence and surviving through violence,” said the vocalist. “Kill Grid is a metaphor for a chessboard. It doesn’t matter how many pieces you lose as long as you win. Just don’t lose the King, but other than that, kill everyone to win. I thought this was an ugly thought only people in positions of power who didn’t give a fuck about human life could ever have, and live by.”
Sonically, Enforced take inspirational cues from extreme metal, hardcore and punk, and though that is nothing new; in this case, the band's penchant for groundbreakers like Napalm Death, Exhumed, and D-Beat aggression results in a thrashy dose of charred metal that translates both sleek and sinister. It's a stylistic meld that the band have been diligent about refining. “I’d have to say we’re influenced by bands like Sodom and Demolition Hammer among so many others,” Colby said. “When it came to terms with the writing process of Kill Grid, it was pretty natural because we’ve been working on it for almost two years, it has all been a progression,” he said.
An all too familiar story, Colby also explained how the events of 2020 and the pandemic had a profound impact on the band's itinerary. Ironically, in recalling how long it has been since the band has seen the stage, Colby revisits the band's last performance - a hometown one. “It’s been over a year now, but we toured all January 2020 with Red Death. Our last show before the worldwide shutdown was in February, in Richmond with Creeping Death and Chamber,” he said.
Yet despite the pandemic and the forever altered way of life for most, Colby's daily has not changed much for him or his bandmates who all work full-time jobs. “Since the beginning of the lockdown, I haven’t stopped working at all, 40 hours a week or more, and the same thing with my bandmates,” Colby said. “I guess we’re essential workers; I work in management and upkeep of units, which is hard work. I don’t feel or understand what everyone else is going through since I have been working this whole time. So aside from the shows being canceled and wearing facemasks, life hasn’t really changed for me.”
It's that sense of uninterrupted routine that steered the band's focus to enter the studio and create a new album when the lockdown began. While the world was dealing with significance changes, the band was locked in. “Early on, we did stop practicing, but not due to the pandemic but because we were playing these songs for over two years. But for the past few months now, we’ve been getting back in the groove and rehearsing and doing promotions for our record. We’re getting comfortable with the songs again so we can be ready when touring comes back and shows are happening.”
As for the forecast of when that return happens, that remains to be seen. Though many bands have opted to develop creative alternatives in streaming live events, it's a model Enforced didn't feel like they had to consider. Yet now, a year deep into a moratorium on live music, the itch to get back on a stage, any stage, is very real. And with a new album with years worth of work invested, the band is primed to play these tracks in some kind live setting. “At first we were against it, but as time moves on, we might consider it,” Colby said. “It’s gotten to the point where what the fuck else are we gonna do? We haven’t planned any virtual events yet, but we got some offers we’re still on the fence. it just has to be ideal and we have to take a lot into consideration we would have to sit down and plan it out.”
Having a very pragmatic outlook, Colby is keenly aware of obstacles in releasing new music, especially while the world continues to play a guessing game with regards to normalcy. “All the info I am getting is spotty at best. People are speculating things could open by this Fall, but honestly, who knows? I just think it could be until 2022 when shows and tours come back,” he said. “As things slowly get better we’ll see, with the vaccination and all. This is just going to have to play out we will see. I was an optimist for a while but you don’t wanna get your hopes up then have them crushed.”
As for the here and now, the reality for Enforced is that they have a killer new record set to release and they are a prime example of Richmond's brilliant, healthy subculture. That is enough to motivate Colby and the band to press forward despite such uncertain times. “We’re thankful to have the album coming out, we put a lot of hard work and effort into it,” he said. “All we can do is just go on, keep living, go to work every day, and play music until we can safely get out back on tour. That's about as far in as I've thought about it."
Kill Grid from ENFORCED arrives March 12th via Century Media Records. Pre-Order the album - HERE