There’s been huge momentum building behind Employed To Serve in recent years, and that their previous album, The Warmth of a Dying Sun, was named Kerrang!’s album of the year for 2017 was, in some ways, little surprise. Sure, it might be unusual for a relatively small band to win such a huge accolade; but a listen to the record in question would explain exactly why it was deemed worthy of the award. Their chaotic metalcore, laced with a sense of groove and melodic flourishes, is a winning combination, firmly rooted in the underground whilst also having commercial potential (at least, as far as music this heavy can ever be market-friendly).
So, faced with such recognition, and now signed to the heavy music behemoth that is Spinefarm, no one would blame the band for playing it relatively safe and looking to repeat the success of The Warmth of a Dying Sun. Instead, however, new album Eternal Forward Motion lives up to its name. (Pre-order and/or pre-save your copy here.) Employed To Serve sound even more fired-up, with the album being even more frantic, aggressive, and creative than anything the group have done before.
From the opening title track, it’s clear that Employed To Serve aren’t even considering easing off. The shortest of introductory segments done with, the band then launch into some of the frantic riffs that define their sound. The Dillinger Escape Plan might be the most obvious reference point, but it’s not quite right; Employed To Serve are less clinical, without the same sense of show-boating that could creep into that band’s music. Instead, it feels throughout like the quintet are living up to the promise of almost-forgotten underground UK hardcore heroes like Beecher who made the scene so exciting around the turn of the millennium – no matter how technical the riffs and movements are, they always feel direct and punishing, rather than being technical for its own sake. Combined with some cathartic choruses, soaring melodic guitar lines, and an emotional edge that absolutely cannot be faked, it means that Eternal Forward Motion is an engaging, energising listen right from the start.
The “Harsh Truth” is that this song (and its album) is freaking incredible.
It would be easy to imagine such an album becoming overwhelming over the course of 11 tracks, which is why it’s a relief that Employed To Serve take a few moments to scale things back, creating the contrast that’s required for such intensity to stay engaging. The drum and vocal-led opening to fourth track “Harsh Truth” is a well-placed respite from the chaos that otherwise defines the first half of the album, and the bass-led verses are some of the best on the release.
Following instrumental track, “Sore Tooth Twin,” is a short, relatively sedate mood piece, that owes as much to the heavier end of post-rock as it does hardcore, and provides a moment of relative calm before the second half of the album. Even so,Eternal Forward Motion is an album defined by just that – even the calmer moments are more a pause for breath before the next sprint, rather than a sustained drop in tempo and energy.
Compared to previous outings, Eternal Forward Motion is a big step forward. The changes are, largely, relatively subtle; but they combine to make the album feel more emotional, more engaging, and more varied than what Employed To Serve have thus far released. Along with the lines of Rolo Tomassi, Svalbard, Conjurer, and Ithaca, Employed To Serve are at the forefront of pushing the UK metal scene into an exciting place, and Eternal Forward Motion further cements their position amongst the best of an already excellent scene.
A recent press shot of this powerful, female-led fivesome.
Eternal Forward Motion Track Listing:
01. Eternal Forward Motion
02. Beneath It All
03. Dull Ache Behind My Eyes
04. Harsh Truth
05. Sore Tooth Twin
06. Force Fed
07. We Forgot You
08. Suspended in Emptiness
09. Reality Filter
10. Owed Zero
11. Bare Bones on a Blue Sky
Run Time: 41:48
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Record Label: Spinefarm Records