EnfΔrce – Superhero Diaries – Part I
Reviewed by Kevin Hathaway
I’ve come across a unique problem with this Finnish superhero-themed quintet – I have no idea what to call them. The promo I have calls itself “Enforce”, but apparently that was its old name. All official sites I can find, even ones controlled by the band themselves, alternate between Enfarce and EnfΔrce. I guess the name on the cover art looks like EnfΔrce, but how do you pronounce that? Does it just sound like Enfarce? Enf[Delta]rce?
Well, while that keeps me up at night, let’s take a look at the long-time-coming full-length debut from… these guys. Back when the band was known as Enforce from 2001 to 2004, it released a few EPs and then kinda disappeared for a decade to become… whatever it is now. Superhero Diaries – Pt. 1 is a concept album revolving around a Farcodroid with a giant triangle on his chest named the Steel Enforcer (oh come on, the band is just screwing with me at this point), a 7-foot tall otherworldly entity summoned to Earth to rid the world of evil. Oh, and his weakness is alcohol (this band is Finnish, you say?). Among other quirks, apparently the Steel Enforcer can also communicate telepathically with ants. That’s right, a space man from another dimension can communicate telepathically with creatures, nay, insects native only to Earth that are the size of a fingernail and have a lifespan of a month and a half. He must get a lot of useful information from them.
Most of the songs are of the somewhat typical Finnish power metal brand: heavily-accented vocals, hyper-melodic solos and choruses, and some icy-sounding keyboards (though the band is certainly guitar-driven). The catchiest song here, somewhat sadly, is the cover of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” (then again, it’s hard to beat the songwriting of Jim Steinman), which has already been done to death by several other power metal bands, including the other superhero-themed band, Grailknights. However, there are more than a few prime cuts contained in Superhero Diaries – Pt. 1, including the one-two combo of “I’m A Hero” and “Gift Of Prophecy,” the latter of which features guitar solos from Matias Kupiainen of Stratovarius fame, as well as Markus Jamsen from Swallow The Sun. There are also (mercifully) no cheesy ballads to kill the energy throughout the album. Whether being played up for laughs or trying to genuinely evoke emotions, a ballad just wouldn’t work on this album so kudos to Enf… uhh, the band for not falling into that common power metal trap.
Singer Ricky Tournee sports a slightly nasally, high-pitched voice similar to an even more hard rock-influenced Tobias Sammett. The guitars have plenty of melodic hooks and solos to capture the ears, with decent rhythm drive as well. The keyboards are surprisingly subdued for a Finnish power metal band, providing more atmosphere than pronounced melody. They do get to have their fun though; “Dawn Damage”, the song about the Steel Enforcer’s alcohol problem, employs use of a gospel organ to very amusing effect. None of the performers end up overshadowing each other, which makes for a nicely rounded experience. The songs on the back half of the album are not as memorable as earlier tracks, but the band has enough energy to keep things interesting.
Like a multi-million dollar comic book blockbuster, Superhero Diaries – Pt. 1 is big, flashy, and occasionally silly, but guaranteed fun (disregard this statement if the only comic book movie you have ever seen is Elektra). A speech from the Steel Enforcer at the end of the album has him promising that he will be back, though I guess the “Pt. 1” in the title of the album should have been a dead giveaway of that too. Here’s hoping they don’t go for a gritty reboot before this gets a proper sequel like poor Superman not too long ago.