It’s hard to talk about music in 2021 and not have the discussion reflect the glaring shitshow situation of the last twelve months. Yes, there was (and is) a global pandemic. Yes, there was (and is) growing signs of social and political unrest. No one really wants to belabor this point, but sometimes, life cares not for subtlety.
“We recorded [Kill Grid] right around the George Floyd protests, and everything that I had written about was coming true. And then it just kept on happening. I was like, ‘Oh my God…’” That’s Knox Colby, vocalist and resident throat-shredder for Virginian crossover merchants Enforced. “I was trying to write about something that I didn’t think could or would exist, but now I’m watching it in my own town. I’m watching my album unfold. It’s nauseating. It’s terrifying.”
Kill Grid, their first full-length album and Century Media Records debut, is a record that expands the group’s focus from the hallowed halls of thrash and hardcore towards the unbound territory of sonic extremity.
“We only really started recording this past March, but a lot of the songs had been at least partially in progress for probably at least the year prior to that,” says guitarist Will Wagstaff. “We were just kind of always writing stuff and we kind of wanted to go in a different direction, a little bit more extreme than just straight-up crossover music. So, with recording, once we [were] prepared and ready to record, once we [got] in there, it’s just no bullshit.”
The Richmond quintet—rounded out by Ethan Gensurowsky (bass), Zach Monahan (guitar), and Alex Bishop (drums)—enlisted long-time friend Bob Quirk (Memory Loss, Misled Youth) to engineer Kill Grid, alongside Philadelphia-based metal mainstay Arthur Rizk (Power Trip, Cavalera Conspiracy) to mix and master the release. The result is the most furious and devastating material Enforced have ever produced, thanks in large part to the band’s unceasing creative output.
“I think it was right around the time, or right before, [2019’s] At The Walls came out. Once we started touring and stuff with that [material], everything else pretty much got scrapped. It was just like, ‘Okay, none of these [songs] are going to work,’” explains Colby. “So, eventually those songs got scrapped or completely mutated into something else and some ended up on Kill Grid. But yes, we’re always writing, and we never really stopped recording.”
Forged amid COVID-19 ravaging the country, alongside growing civil disorder and discontent, it’s remarkable that Enforced managed to pull Kill Grid together at all. To this end, the group acknowledges that feelings of anxiety and uncertainty gradually crept in on the album’s creation.
“Mainly just because of the safety precautions, but there were also the protests going on and a lot of unrest, so it was often like, ‘Is today really a good day to go record? You know, there’s a bunch of dudes with assault rifles like walking around downtown… So, probably not,’” admits Wagstaff. “We had done a full month-long tour in January . So, I think we were all quite hyped up on that, and we really wanted to kind of get running with stuff.”
With that attitude in mind, pre-release singles like “Hemorrhage” make it clear that Enforced are ready and raring to go, champing at the bit to destroy stages once more with razor-sharp riffage, gruff vocals, and a devastating thrash intensity that pays homage to early Slayer and Exodus. Lyrically, however, Colby is also the first to admit that Kill Grid displays an eerie prescience towards the world’s current state of affairs.
“It was all locked in previously, [which] is why I find this record really kind of chilling. Especially, you know, with the US Capitol being stormed and attacked, and we had just dropped our video and single for ‘Malignance,’” says Colby. “I was like, ‘This song is about an insurrection where you get shot in the belly,’ and then someone legit got shot in the stomach. I was like, ‘This is weird here. Like, this is uncomfortable.’”
And while he might not have set out to be the Nostradamus of metal (or ‘Knoxtradamus,’ if you will), Colby is certainly on board with the band’s debut album acting as the perfect musical accompaniment to what’s sure to be another tumultuous year. “I do think it that makes [Kill Grid] more of an interesting listen—because it’s true. I didn’t mean for it to be true, and I didn’t want it to be true. But now it is. So, yes, it’s something to think about, even if it’s becoming a very scary album.”
Purchase and stream Kill Grid here.
Read our review of Kill Grid here.