Who would have thought that the humble city of Woking would get its name on the map thanks to five rebels from within its borders? Back in 2014 when EMPLOYED TO SERVE released debut album Change Nothing Regret Everything, the notion that the UK was about to produce another seriously talented metal outfit was near non-existent; how things change. 2017’s follow up The Warmth of a Dying Sun was Kerrang!’s album of that calendar year and it wasn’t long before Spinefarm Records came calling, snapping up the crown jewel of independent darlings Holy Roar for their own. The three singles released prior to the full unleashing of third album Eternal Forward Motion last Friday garnered much excitement, but it’s no surprise that the trio of ‘Force Fed’, ‘Harsh Truth’ and the title track served merely as the aperitif to what is undoubtedly one of the most essential albums of 2019. Put simply, EMPLOYED TO SERVE have never been better.
The aforementioned title track provides the bruising opening to proceedings with its huge riff and no-prisoners-taken attitude. The chorus is more melodic than what one might expect given the band’s previous catalogue and this is where EMPLOYED TO SERVE show a new addition to their already impressive arsenal of weapons; it could well see them make the leap from sweaty clubs to academy size venues in front of a few thousand at a time. It’s ‘Dull Ache Between The Eyes’ where things are cranked up to a level that doesn’t dissipate for the rest of the record though, a slick trade in vocals between frontwoman Justine Jones and guitar Sammy Urwin giving the track real pace that culminates in a thunderous breakdown.
By this point, superlatives to describe the record are already in short supply and there’s another eight tracks to come. The in-your-face brutality of ‘Suspended in Emptiness’ and blistering chug in ‘Reality Filter’ ensure the second half remains as strong as the first, but the real standout comes in the last two tracks. The former, ‘Owed Zero’, will be a mosh anthem for the next millennium, its stomp and bounce ensuring that shapes will be thrown whenever it drops. The latter, ‘Bare Bones on a Blue Sky’, is unquestionably EMPLOYED TO SERVE’s most diverse work to date; the atmospheric beginnings of Urwin’s clean tones giving a post-metal feel that the band have never tackled before; safe to say though, they pull it off with aplomb.
It’s also worth mentioning that this album would not be as potent if the quintet of individuals who made it weren’t all fully invested with the music they were creating. Jones and Urwin have already been singled out for their incredible vocals, but there has to be mention of guitarist James Jackson, bassist Jamie Venning and drummer Robbie Black for stellar contributions that have made Eternal Forward Motion not only the best album of their career to date but also heading straight for the top of the End of Year charts as well.
For a world racked with anger and looking set to be for a long time to come, Eternal Forward Motion is the perfect musical catharsis for an unhappy and rage-fuelled generation that feels let down by the goings on of the planet they call home. With it comes the undeniable truth that EMPLOYED TO SERVE are a band at the very top of their game right now and will remain at that level until their next record takes them even higher.