Enforcer is a Swedish traditional heavy metal band. Once just a lowly one-man side project, they quickly became one of the figureheads of the traditional heavy metal revival scene of the 2000s and managed to maintain their status as a beloved act well after the novelty of that scene died down.
Formed in Arvika, Sweden in 2004 by Olof Wikstrand (vocals, all instruments) as a side project while he was in various local bands (most notably Tribulation), the band was initially not a particularly serious venture, though the songs that he had recorded started to make the rounds on MySpace, and by 2006, he had started to assemble a full band, with his younger brother Jonas joining in on drums and Adam Zaars taking the guitar spot, while Olof took over bass duties. The band then briefly changed musical chairs with the lineup in 2007, when Jonas switched to the bass spot as Jakob Ljungberg briefly (apparently only for a few months) joined in on drums before leaving again, leaving Jonas to resume drums, while Joseph Tholl took the bass spot. An appearance on the Speed Kills... Again split and a deal with then-upcoming indie label Heavy Artillery Records that year helped break them to a wider audience, and by 2008, the band had recorded Into the Night, their debut on Heavy Artillery. At some point between recording and release, Joseph Tholl moved to guitar and Tobias Lindqvist took over on bass, giving the band a five-man lineup. They would go on to tour in support of the album (including a North American run with Cauldron), and by 2010, they released Diamonds, their sophomore full-length, to rave reviews, and the quiet hype that they had previously had turned into broader mainstream recognition. Adam Zaars left the following year to focus on Tribulation, whose own career had slowly started to take off, and Olof simply opted to take the vacant guitar slot himself. Over the course of 2012, the band continued to tour, and while the collapse of Heavy Artillery and subsequent consolidation of most of its acts into Earache may have slowed them down somewhat, they managed to ink a more desirable deal with Nuclear Blast instead, and Death by Fire, their third full-length, was released in early 2013. They would continue touring throughout 2013 and 2014, and 2015 brought the surprise announcement of Undying Evil, their fourth full-length, as well as their first North American tour in seven years, which was slated for the beginning of 2016. Their coheadliner with Warbringer wound up being quite successful, as was a run supporting Dark Tranquillity later that year, but they opted to take a break for most of 2017 and 2018 to work on their next album, and in April of 2019, Zenith was finally released, while Joseph Tholl formally left after having been absent from touring for some time and was replaced by Jonathan Nordwall. More touring is planned, and Olof and co. have no intention of slowing down any time soon.
- Enforcer (2005) (demo)
- Evil Attacker (2005) (demo)
- Evil Attacker/Mistress from Hell (2007) (demo)
- Speed Kills... Again (2007) (V/A compilation)
- New Age of Iron Vol. 1 - Teutonic-Swedish Alliance (2007) (V/A compilation)
- Into the Night (2008)
- Nightmare Over the UK (2010) (split with Cauldron)
- Diamonds (2010)
- Take Me to Hell/Night Walker (2010) (split with Volture)
- Enforcer/Bullet (2011) (split with Bullet)
- Mesmerized by Fire (2013) (single)
- Death by Fire (2013)
- From Beyond (2015)
- Live by Fire (2015) (live album, also featured the Speak the Tongue of Heathen Gods EP that has thusfar not seen a standalone release)
- Zenith (2019)
The band contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ascended Extra: Jonathan Nordwall had been filling in for Joseph Tholl (who was touring less and less for some time up until he became an Absentee Actor) for several years before he took over after Tholl formally quit in 2019.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Into the Night was a Speed Metal album rather than the traditional heavy metal that they would become known for, though it wasn't vastly different from their more famous style.
- Epic Rocking: "Ode to Death" (6:56), "Silent Hour / The Conjugation" (6:30), "Below the Slumber" (6:21), "Mask of Red Death" (6:12), and "Katana" and "Regrets" (both 6:00 even).
- Fan of the Past: Olof, which led him to start the band; he has historically denied the retro/old-school label, however, referring to traditional metal as "timeless".
- Filk Song: "Mask of Red Death" and "Ode to Death".
- Hair Metal: Zenith, though elements of this had started to creep in back on Death by Fire and potentially even as early as Diamonds ("Running in Menace").
- I Am the Band: Started out as a one-man project and was still functionally Olof's band for several years after getting a full lineup, though it became a full group effort by the time that Diamonds was being written.
- Instrumentals: "City Lights", "Diamonds", "Crystal Suite", and "Hungry They Will Come".
- Lighter and Softer: Zenith (especially "Regrets", a borderline Arena Rock Power Ballad taken from Tobias Lindqvist's defunct side project Terminal).
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Die for the Devil": "DIE FOR THE DEVIL, DIE AS ONE!"
- Metal Scream: Olof Wikstrand is known for his distinctive Type 4, which is a nasally wail with a noticeable accent.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Firm 7 on Into the Night and most of Undying Evil, soft 7 on Diamonds and Death by Fire (save for tracks like "Live for the Night" and "Satan", which were a solid 7), 6 on Zenith (and a 3 for "Regrets").
- New Sound Album: Several:
- Diamonds was a Genre Shift to traditional heavy metal, with a more midpaced feel and generally more technical compositions due to their two-guitar setup.
- Zenith was another Genre Shift to Hair Metal that, at times, bordered on Arena Rock (particularly "Regrets", a Power Ballad repurposed from Lindqvist's abandoned side project Terminal).
- Sibling Team: The Wikstrand brothers (Olof and Jonas).
- Speed Metal: Into the Night, though they have always had at least one or two tracks in this style on every full-length since then.
- Start My Own: Olof was playing in various local thrash bands in his teens when he decided to start a little one-man project that was intended to reflect his love of Speed Metal and NWOBHM. It took off a little more than he expected it to. This was also true for Tobias Lindqvist's side project Terminal (done in the style of Communist Bloc heavy metal acts from the early 1980s with lyrics in Slovenian), but he wound up abandoning it and repurposed at least one track ("Regrets") for Enforcer.
- True Companions: With Tribulation, as both bands are very good friends and have regularly shared members (including Olof, who was very briefly a member in 2004), and Olof completely understood when Adam Zaars chose Tribulation (which he had been a founding member of) over Enforcer after they started to take off in their own right.