Enforced Isn't Afraid to Get in Your Face

Virginia's Enforced is a wrecking ball of a metal band.
Virginia's Enforced is a wrecking ball of a metal band. Courtesy Enforced
A self-described introvert, Enforced vocalist Knox Colby is soft-spoken and forthcoming when discussing the Virginia band’s ascent to bigger bills over the past few years, including a recent European tour and appearance at France’s Hellfest this summer.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were touring pretty much the same way, but just not with more high-profile tours. We would book our own DIY tours and stuff like that. You got to put your 10,000 hours in of touring and sleeping on floors and stuff for people to notice,” he says, referencing author Malcom Gladwell’s hypothesis that in order to become an expert at anything, one must dedicate 10,000 hours of practice to perfecting a particular skill. “You've just got to get your chops up in terms of being able to tour and be on the road. It’s not for everybody. But I personally love it. I think we all do.”

Enforced is currently on the road with At the Gates for the legendary Swedish death-metal band's 25th-anniversary tour of its seminal album Slaughter of the Soul. Municipal Waste and Denver’s Axeslasher are also providing support for the Monday, August 22, stop at the Gothic Theatre.

Playing on bigger stages allows the auburn-bearded frontman to morph into a composer of pure chaos in leading one of the most aggressive, frenetic metal bands touring today.

“I would consider myself kind of introverted," Colby says, "but when I get on stage, it’s like a switch flips. I am master and commander for 45 minutes or whatever the set time is. It’s a completely different feeling. ... I get so much aggression, anger, angst and anxiety out. It all just washes away. If I could do it forever, I will. I feel incredible after I get off stage — I’m not a ball of nerves. I still get butterflies every single show, no matter what."

Pulling from thrash, punk and hardcore while germinating in the fertile Richmond scene, which includes peers like Municipal Waste, it’s safe to say Enforced has put in its 10,000-plus hours at this point.

“We’ve all been in dozens and dozens of hardcore, punk and metal bands collectively,” Colby says. “It definitely plays into our sound. There are so many mixed bills of hardcore, punk and metal that they all just kind of blend in with the wash. I wouldn’t say that we’re strictly a thrash or crossover band — it’s just aggression music. It’s just aggressive, angry music. That’s our background, being in all these bands. Anything that’s aggressive and fast — it’s just baked into the DNA of Richmond.”

Whether it’s house shows or festivals, watching Enforced live is akin to standing in the path of a wrecking ball. The guitars of Will Wagstaff and Zach Monahan are as sharp as a katana in front of drummer Alex Bishop and bassist Ethan Gensurowsky’s propulsive low end. Add in Colby's madman vocals, and there's no time to move out of the way before Enforced crushes into you.

Colby describes the band's sound as “aggression. Pure aggression. Just aggression. We play hard. We play fast. [The albums] pale in comparison to the live set in terms of speed and just raw power and emotion. It’s just so much more in your face than you can get on record. Strap in, because it’s going to be about thirty minutes of pure energy.”

While the band is playing to more people on a night-to-night basis, more intimate venues are still “just our vibe, because everyone’s up close and in your face,” he adds.

“But it’s a validating and vindicating feeling. Finally, people are starting to notice and turn their heads and checking us out,” Colby explains. “The only thing I really want to do is to play in front of as many people as I can. So having these higher-profile tours with bigger acts, that’s just more people I get to play for, which is really awesome to have an opportunity to do that.”

Enforced, 7 p.m. Monday, August 22, Gothic Theatre, 3263 South Broadway; tickets are $35-$40.
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