April 7, 2023

Richmond, Virginia’s crossover thrashers Enforced have been around for less than seven years, but we are already awaiting their third full-length album War Remains. As witnessed by Stoyan Tsonev, who had the privilege to hear it early, the album is another tour-de-force of extremity condensed into less than 34 minutes and 10 tracks. It’s an early highlight in the genre and we took the opportunity to call frontman Knox to talk about house repair work, haunting images and the pleasures of relentless touring.


Hello Knox – it’s a pleasure talking to you for the first time, man. Congratulations for the fantastic new album. Do you feel a relief it is out of your system or just the opposite – there’s pressure to expect how the fans will react to it?

-I don’t think there’s any pressure. I’m excited that it’s about to be released but there’s a pressure that’s on myself to play and perform the new songs and do them justice. People who’ve heard some of the new songs seem to like them a lot and I hope they will like the rest of it. 

I really like the new album. It is probably your most furious and straightforward so far. It sounds vicious. Did you change your approach for War Remains in comparison to Kill Grid?

-Yes, I think so. Maybe just a little tweak. We kind of figured out our writing and recording process, we tried to have the band in there as a whole. Recording was really quick – it lasted for maybe a week, in comparison to Kill Grid which took about a month. The new album is also about 15 minutes shorter than the last one, but the intensity is still there. I think the rough and unpolished nature of the songs lends itself to like you said – it sounds vicious.

You have been touring a lot after the pandemic, with some great bands like Obituary, Gatecreeper and Municipal Waste. Do you think that bands which tour together are influenced by each other’s music?

-I don’t think there’s necessarily an influence, even if I can’t speak for every single band. The main point of touring together is to support one another, bringing together a community of new bands and building a camaraderie. It’s a very positive and profound experience – touring with Obituary, Exhumed, At The Gates and now the next tour with Venom Inc. – I can’t wait for it – it will be such a great experience! Touring is also hard work but everyone is working together to make it happen.

War Remains is walking a fine line between the old school thrash approach with blistering Slayer-style solos and a more hardcore structure of the songs and your vocal style. Are your hardcore fans digging guitar solos and melodies and the opposite – how are thrashers reacting to some breakdowns and shouts here and there?

-I think, well… I’d like to think, that everyone’s digging it. We still play hardcore shows every now and then, especially in Richmond and people on both sides, metal and hardcore, go nuts. The hardcore side like the speed, the technicality and the breakdowns and the other side they like the solos and the speed. If a breakdown comes, everyone is throwing hands, headbanging, screaming along and having a great time.

Yeah, that’s what it’s all about – having a great time, so I guess you’re doing a great job then. The cover artwork by Joe Petagno is amazing and so in line with your music. What kind of directions did you give him?

It was weird. I wasn’t anything like the last time, because he did Kill Grid as well. Back in November of 2021 while we were on tour with Exhumed, Creeping Death and Bewitcher, he emailed me personally with “hey, what are you thinking?”. I was like “what??”, haha! It’s not an email you would expect. And he’s like “what are you thinking for the next album?”. I said we had no idea – we hadn’t even recorded it yet and only had three of four songs. So he asked if I had notes for lyrics or anything at all written. I had those scrambled notes and random pieces of lyrics that he wanted me to send, so I said – OK. He then asked me if I can write more and I said – yeah, sure, I can write down every psychotic thing I can think of, haha. Some really depressing shit. I wrote him about once or twice a week with just random things that I thought. He kept asking for more and for more and when we were on tour with Obituary, I think it was in February last year, I woke up to an email with the sketch of the artwork. It was almost finished and I just thought “oh, this is so disturbing!”, haha! It was even more disturbing because I realized this was an interpretation of my brain. I thought “that’s awful! That’s not good!”. I didn’t even want to look at it for a while – it was haunting. It was muddy but crispy, fluid but static all the same time. In fact, the fact that we had the artwork ready before we had completed the songs helped me with the writing process. How can something be hard but melting at the same time – it had this paradox. So this kind of made me think in the lyrics about this paradoxical way of attracting opposites. So he did an incredible job. Incredible.

I am happy to hear that you have such a great collaboration with him and you even helped each other – you helped him with the concept for the artwork and in return – it helped you finish the lyrics. It’s a very nice story.

-Yeah, I need to send him a very long thank you letter.

The info for the album mentions there are some very personal topics that you touch upon with your lyrics. As a musician and lyricist, is it hard to sing about personal stuff every night on stage and to kind of re-imagine everything once again or it is just the opposite – a relief and a vent off of sorts?

It’s the latter. It’s getting it off my chest. The more you have the ability to express it, the more you can understand it. I’m usually really bad at trying to express what I am feeling but I think I did an OK job and I’m proud of what I wrote and I think people will be able to understand and relate to it. So, yeah, I felt a nice cathartic relief from doing that.

There’s a shared subculture between crossover music and skaters and free-style sports. Do you skate or practice some other street-style extreme sport?

-Nope. I am the least extreme person.

Haha!

-I fix houses for a living and people who don’t know anything about me or about electrical work, consider this an extreme sport, haha. Cutting in the pipes, or cutting off wires and reconfiguring all the stuff just from memory. People are like “eerrr… do you know what you’re doing?”. Yeah, I know what I’m doing. Sometimes it can get crazy. I’ve shocked myself hundreds of times. And my hands are all cut up from accidents, so that’s kind of extreme – this self-inflicted pain, haha!

You’re starting a tour with Venom Inc. in the States next June, but when can we see you in Europe?

-Probably next year.

Oh, that’s really bad news!

-Sorry, haha. After the Venom Inc. tour we will have a full US tour that we haven’t announced yet and after that in the fall – another tour here in the US. So we’re pretty much done for this year but I hope we can do some festivals in Europe next year. Hopefully the album is received well and the people really want us to come back. I would love to.

It would be really nice to see you in Europe again. I am absolutely sure the album will be loved by the fans. I’ve been playing it every day since it was sent to me and it’s really one of the best extreme metal albums so far this year.

-OK, so can I ask you a question then? I’ve noticed a pattern. When you’ve finished listening to the whole album, do you feel a compulsion to start over?

Hmmm, not every time, because the experience is exhausting. The album is really intense and compressed in the way it conveys extremity to the listener. So sometimes I need some rest before I play it again. I just want to assimilate it and rest my head a bit. You are incorporating a lot of hardcore anger in it.

-Really? That’s the biggest compliment I’ve ever heard. I actually spoke to someone in Poland and she said she listens to it four times a day and I was like “that is a lot!” Haha!

I can understand that as well, because the music has a lot of nuances and you can discover something new and exciting with every new spin.

-Every time I listen to it, it’s for a specific thing I try to look for but by the time I get to the end of the album I forgot what I was looking for. But I believe it’s a good album if you want to play it more than once a day. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.


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War Remains is coming out on April 28th via Century Media. You can pre-order it from HERE