It’s safe to say that thrash metal is alive and well in 2023, with a number of veteran and younger acts making waves in the subgenre. Richmond, Virginia’s Enforced is foremost among the latter. Its third album, “War Remains” (Century Media), has drawn universal acclaim—including from Live Metal—and the band is set to hit the road hard for the remainder of 2023, touring with Venom Inc., Creeping Death and others. Live Metal’s Greg Maki recently caught up with frontman Knox Colby to discuss the new record and more.

LIVE METAL: So you’re about to leave to play some shows, get this machine fired up. You also played the big record release show in Richmond over the weekend. How did that go?

KNOX COLBY: Oh, man, that was so much fun. That kind of sparked the fire back—at least in me. I was just like, I can’t wait to start going on tour again, because if every night’s like this, then we’re gonna have a great year. People were losing their fucking mind, especially to all the newer songs. So that was awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better reaction.

I haven’t been able to go to as many shows since my son was born in 2019, so I have not been able to see Enforced live yet. But as you were just saying, I can imagine your shows get pretty crazy at times.

I’d like them to be crazier, but Saturday was pretty wild. So I’ll take that. I’m always a sucker for really chaotic, crazy, a little tinge of fear in everybody, like I don’t know what’s gonna happen. (laughs)

Like people jumping onstage and stuff like that?

Yeah. There was one dude who climbed, like ran up a pillar and kind of like side-jumped off of it, which was nuts. People were stage diving like crazy and huge surges in the pit. It was awesome to see.

A big part of that has got to be the new album, which is getting a fantastic reaction pretty much across the board. What does that mean to you?

I hope it affords us the opportunity to do this as a full-time job. That’s my personal goal. I just want to do this band full-time and make it be able to pay rent. That would be awesome. I could finally say I’ve made it if I could pay rent off of the band. The response has been overwhelming from the jump. From when the first single came out until now, it seems like it’s snowballing into something that’s out of control—which is great. That’s nice, and I’m glad everyone seems to be enjoying it.

The first Enforced album came out in 2019. Here we are four years later already on number three, which is working at a faster pace than probably most bands do these days. What do you attribute that to?

Hard work. We all have a pretty good work ethic when it comes to writing and recording and playing and touring. Mentally, we’re all on the same page, so we know that we’re all working together toward the same goal. We all get along, I guess. I don’t know what else to say, really. We just work really fucking hard. And we know that we’re working hard, and the hard work is paying off dividends, in terms of the album’s reach and how popular it’s been getting. I’m glad that so many people are hearing it because we all worked really hard on it.

When you started working on it, did you have any specific goals for this album beyond what you said about being able to do it for a living? Was there anything you did differently?

We had the album art first, which was weird. Joe (Petagno) had hit me up in late 2021 saying, “Hey, I want to work on the next one. Let’s start working on it.” So by the time that we were almost done with the Decibel tour in February of 2022, we already had it—before we even had songs. We had a handful of songs, but it wasn’t fully written. So having that as an image of like this is what it has to sound like. (laughs) It has to sound like this picture, and the lyrics kind of have to play with that picture. So that was different.

When it came to actually recording, I don’t want to say it was effortless, because that’s false, but we did it in between two tours, so there wasn’t really time to sit around and think about it, and we really didn’t want to.

No overthinking.

No, you can’t. We finished that tour with At the Gates, and I think like two days later, we went to the studio and then knocked it out in a week, and then we were done. Then we sent it to Arthur (Rizk) to get mastered. He nailed the mix and master in two or three takes. And that was done in a week. And then it was like, “OK, cool. Everything’s done. Send it to the label. Let’s go back on the road.”

When did the album title come into play? “War Remains,” to me, is a perfect thrash album title.

Thanks. It was inspired by a book I read by the psychologist James Hillman. He wrote a book called “A Terrible Love of War,” and one of the closing lines or it’s on the jacket or something, this big paragraph and at the very end, it’s like, “As long as humanity exists, war shall remain” or something like that. I was like, “‘War Remains!’ Perfect title! Thank you!” (laughs) I used that book as inspiration for the lyrics and stuff like that. It kind of just fell into place, fell in my lap. Sounds sick to me.

Do you personally have to go to dark places in your mind to write these kinds of lyrics?

I used to. I remember “Kill Grid” being a struggle. Getting in that dark place is easy because I think I’m naturally kind of depressive or just cynical and kind of dark to begin with. But trying to get out of that is really hard. I remember that taking months to get back to normal. This time, it felt more like writing a research paper. I had all these articles and books and notes and papers all spread out on the porch, reading and organizing thoughts and ideas rather than just sitting there getting really sad (laughs) for days and weeks on end. So this time was much more structured and, I think, a little bit more academic, if that makes sense.

Do you have any songs in particular that really stand out to you as being either closer to you or just favorites in general?

I really like how “The Quickening” turned out, I really like how “Mercy Killing Fields” turned out, and I kind of impressed myself with “Ultra-Violence” and “Empire.” The whole thing’s great. There’s no real favorite to me. I know that sounds cliche, like “I love them all equally”—but I kind of do. I can’t pick one over the other. And it goes by so fast that it’s all kind of a cohesive piece—at least to me—that you kind of have to play it from beginning to end.

Yeah, it’s about 32 minutes, which to me is a perfect length.

It’s the perfect amount of time. It’s not too long, and it’s not too short. You can go to Lowe’s and back and finish the record.

Yeah. I have two little kids and a full-time job. I don’t have time to listen to 75-minute albums anymore.

No. I don’t think anyone has that kind of time—or patience. But yeah, just 30 minutes, cut and run. Get in there, kick ass, leave. No reason to hang around after the murder.

It’s shorter than your last album. Was it a challenge to say what you want to say lyrically and musically in a shorter amount of time?

I thought it was going to be harder, but having the experience of doing “Kill Grid,” I knew what not to do, which is cram as many words as possible into a song—really bad idea, I found out. I think the whole idea of the album is less is more. Let the songs breathe, because you literally need to breathe if you’re going to be performing these. Don’t write a full article and call it lyrics. You gotta stop. So everything’s far more concise when it comes to lyrics, when it comes to the riffs and the songs and the album structure. It’s very trim.

The production is so in your face. I listen to it and it almost sounds like the band is set up in my living room banging out those songs.

Yeah, that’s kind of the idea. We had kind of honed our chops so much last year that when it came to recording, it was like, “Let’s just record it how we actually sound. Let’s not do all these studio tricks and all this shit. Let’s just play.” And we did. We didn’t even use tempo maps or metronomes or anything for the drums. Alex (Bishop) went in and just bashed it out real fast. We were done with guitars and drums in one day. So it was like damn, this thing’s almost done. (laughs) I took a little bit longer because I kept getting headaches, but other than that, it was relatively quick.

How long was the recording overall?

A week. (Producer) Ricky (Olson) was also recording this reggae band, so we had to get in three hours here, get in two hours here, we can have a full day here and then another couple of hours here, kind of all throughout September. But as a whole, it only took about a week’s time. That’s how old albums were recorded. You get in there, you bash it out. We don’t want to waste time, and we don’t write anything in the studio, so we already know what to do. So let’s just go do it.

Did you record just the 10 songs that are on the album? Is there anything left over at all?

No originals, no. Everything that we recorded is on the album. We did, just for shits, record two covers, which was fun. I think one of them is going to come out on a comp next year, so I’m not gonna say what it is. But it’s sick. (laughs)

I guess it’s all part of keeping that momentum going. It really started to pick up with “Kill Grid,” and now it’s just gone into overdrive.

Yeah, it’s going back to that whole snowball effect. We’re becoming snowballs ourselves, and getting faster and faster and faster and bigger. So hopefully we don’t implode or hit a wall at some point. But if we do, that’s fine. I’m going to enjoy it right now.

Hopefully, the band has a long career and you’re still in sort of the beginning stages of it. But has there been something so far that has been a highlight, either a tour or show or anything like that?

Playing Hellfest was surreal. I kind of have impostor syndrome when it comes to stuff like that, like I don’t deserve to be here. But then you start talking to all the bands backstage in the artists area and you’re like, “Shit, maybe I do deserve to be here. This is crazy.”

That tour with Obituary was something that 12-year-old me could not comprehend. I was just slack-jawed the whole time. I got to see Obituary 30 times in a row. (laughs) It’s so awesome. And now we’re pretty close acquaintances. We’re good friends. Every time they come through Richmond, we all hang out with them on the bus, and every time we go through Florida or if we’re both on tour and we cross paths, we’ll meet up and say what’s up. It’s like damn, these guys are nice as hell and by no means the scary death metal guys that I grew up thinking that they were. They’re just good guys. So that was really cool. To tour with At the Gates was insane. We’re about to go on tour with Venom Inc.—that’s insane. (laughs)

It’s weird. All the things that you never thought you would ever be able to do or accomplish, I’m currently doing. My bucket list is getting pretty thin. I need to start thinking of new goals because I’m knocking them out pretty hard.

What do you have left? What would be your dream tour to be on?

The Cavaleras would be awesome. That would be sick. If Slayer ever wants to do a couple shows, that’d be sick, too. It doesn’t really matter. As long as everyone gets along, that’s a great tour to me. The Slave to the Grave Tour that we did with Undeath, Phobophilic and 200 Stab Wounds, that was probably one of the best times of my life. It’s crazy because that whole team, it’s like 20-some people and there’s not one asshole, which is weird, because now I’m thinking, “If no one’s an asshole, then I’m the asshole.” And everyone was like, “No, you’re not an asshole.” (laughs) It’s just weird that we’re all getting along so well. That group chat is still going on months later, which is awesome. Love those dudes.

I’d love to tour South America. I’d love to tour Asia. I’d love to tour Australia. I’d love to have a lot more time in Europe. Last time we were in Europe, we didn’t really hit that many countries. It was mostly Western Europe, but I’d like to hit Central and Eastern pretty hard, too, because they have a great fan base, as well. So that’s something hopefully we can do next year. Sky’s the limit, as far as I can tell. I’ll just see what happens.

What do you think it is about thrash metal? It’s been 40 years that this has been going on, and it’s at times come a little closer to the mainstream and gone back underground, but it’s still here and seems to really be thriving now. Why do you think it’s endured for so long?

It’s ever present, but it always has an ebb and flow to it of popularity. I think it’s just become a timeless genre. After the Big Four became the Big Four, it’s kind of like this has staying power, and it’s been legitimized by those four huge thrash bands. So I think it’s kind of ever present, and it always has an audience, and there’s always people who look back to that time and remember it fondly. Some of my favorite records were made in the mid-’80s to mid-’90s. That’s my wheelhouse—’85 to ’95, that’s my shit. So in our case, kind of harkening back to that time and using a similar type of speed and aggression and energy and the imagery—it has staying power. If done correctly, it’s everyone’s favorite. It’s got everything you want in metal. It’s got speed, and then you have awesome slow songs, and then you have really catchy riffs. Everything is built on the riff, and that’s really important. People fucking love riffs, and that’s all thrash metal is: It’s just riffs (laughs), which is awesome!

I saw you had a beer release. How did that come about, and how did that go?

Our bassist Ethan (Gensurowsky) works for the brewery that we collaborated with, The Veil Brewing, and he was trying to get one made for “Kill Grid,” but we ran out of time. He’s really good friends with one of the head brewmasters, so he was like, “Now is the time. We’re going to make this fucking beer.” (laughs) His name is Brent, and Brent was like, “Totally. I just need to figure out a good recipe and a good flavor profile and whatnot.” And it was delicious. It was awesome. We had a big listening party and a beer release, and it damn near sold out that night. I don’t think it made it through the weekend, which is awesome. So hopefully it comes back. That’d be great. And hopefully much more distributed and whatnot.

It’s a black kolsch. Is that the kind of beer you like, the darker beers?


Me? No. I love shitty, pissy beers. (shows a can of Miller High Life) High Life is my favorite. Nothing is better than this. But the black kolsch was interesting because you start to sip it and it tastes like it’s going to be a really heavy beer, but it’s not. It’s a kolsch, which is really light. So it has this really dark flavor profile, but it’s a very refreshing light beer. So it’s paradoxical in its existence. I slammed back way too many of those.

I hope they bring it back. I’m in Maryland, so I’m not too far away. I would love to be able to get over there and try that out.

Whenever they release a beer, people come from way out of state. People come from the Pacific Northwest and grab two or three small pallets of the Veil’s beer and then take it back. They’re one of the better breweries in the U.S., so it was nice to work with something that’s at such a high profile.

That is about all the questions I have for you right now. I love the new album. It’s amazing. If it’s not my album of the year, I’ll be very surprised at this point. But I guess if it’s not, then that means another instant classic is gonna come from someone this year. So that’s not a bad thing.

Yeah, that would be cool, too. Instant classic—that’s a huge compliment, man. Yeah, it’s been nuts. We got the radio charts today, and in the top 30 for radio for metal, we’re number 2. (laughs) It’s Overkill, us and then Metallica. And you’re just like, “What the fuck?!” I texted my mom (laughs), “I’m beating Metallica! Words I thought I would never say.” It’s totally fleeting, but just for today, I got ’em.

Buy/stream/save “War Remains.”

Leave a Reply

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: