Employed to Serve
Conquering

GOD DAMN.

So, four albums in, most people familiar with the modern Metallic Hardcore scene probably need no introduction to the UK’s Employed to Serve. The explosive voice of Justine Jones along with her compatriot bruisers have made quite an impact in a world of heavy hitters the likes of Knocked Loose, Code Orange and Jesus Piece, along with countless other examples of young men and women bringing the heavy shit to the forefront. From their more Chaotic Hardcore-leaning debut Greyer Than You Remember, through 2019s super-solid Eternal Forward Motion, the band has continued to grow and get better with every release. That said, while I’ve enjoyed their work, I personally never fell in love with any of it. Really solid, fun releases, but not something I ever found myself returning to on a regular basis.

Now, Employed to Serve have kicked the door down, grabbed me by the throat and demanded my utmost attention. Holy hell.

Conquering represents a pretty significant transition in how the band approaches their music. In the most basic of explanations, ETS has gotten A LOT more metal. The Metallic Hardcore backbone is still there, but we’re definitely venturing further into the realm of Metalcore and New Wave of American Heavy Metal – tinged with some definite “Nu-Metalishness” that’s become so en vogue these days with many of their peers, notably taking some cues from the likes of Machine Head, Soulfly and Ektomorf. We’re not talking to the extent of becoming overbearing, but it’s impossible to deny the influence in instances like the chorus of second track “Exist,” the bouncy main riffs of “Twist the Blade,” or the clean-sung chuggery found on “Mark of the Grave.” If you’ve had enough of Nu Metal’s re-emergence on the scene, uh, sorry folks. It’s definitely here.

But the band has also taken some righteous cues from the likes of Lamb of God, Unearth and God Forbid to add even more groove-y heft to what was already a pretty volatile concoction the band has been brewing for 6 years now. We’re even talking the addition of guitar solos! Which is not at all an element I’d ever expect the band add to the mix, but guitarists Sammy Urwin (also on shared vocal duty) and David Porter are more than up to the task of throwing down some genuinely compelling leads and solos. Nothing that’s gonna blow your mind, but super solid and not at all sounding out-of-place. Check out burners like “The Mistake,” “We Don’t Need You” (featuring a couple fuckin’ DOOZY LoG/Unearth – inspired breakdowns), and the super-friggin-heavy “World Ender” to hear the band’s newfound emphasis on Metal on full display. “The Conquering” features a fucking SWEET thrashy metalcore bridge/breakdown that sounds straight out of the early 2000’s (think Invocation of Nehek or A Thousand Falling Skies) that’ll have you dusting off the cargo shorts and New Balance runners and running down to your nearest Knights of Columbus to spin kick cross-armed bros into oblivion. SICK BANDANA, BRAH! (Don’t let my sarcasm fool you I’m loving all of this).

The best part of this album is that is just gets better as it goes on. While I can generally take or leave some of the Code Orange nu-metal-isms found more prevalently on the front end of the album (I can’t deny they’ve done a pretty good job with it here), it definitely gets progressively heavier and meaner over the duration. Justine Jones sounds more pissed off and ready to punch you in the mouth than ever, and the band as a whole have all stepped out of their comfort zones a bit, and consequently stepped up their games in a big way. This is a band consciously taking the step up from underground darlings to the arena stage. It can be so easy for any band to fuck up that transition, but Employed to Serve remain as sharp and ready to destroy as ever. I’m sure there will be some who won’t like the direction the band have taken, but I strongly recommend you listen for yourself and make your own opinion. I think this one is gonna stick with me for the long haul.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
September 15th, 2021

Comments

  1. Commented by: WWV

    I’ve liked some of their output, but the new songs just sound horrible to me. I’m getting more of a hard rock/nu-metal vibe, but maybe that’s just me. Still, I hope they do well. Hard working band for sure.

    Oh, and Sammy Urwin should do another Regurgitate Life album.


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