Propelled breathlessly forward since their formation in 2013, Woking-based fire-brands Employed To Serve have been swiftly hailed as one of the UK’s most exciting propositions, a handful of EPs and two full-length records setting them on course to be one of our fair isles’ unlikeliest success stories. As innovative as it was ferocious, 2017’s The Warmth Of A Dying Sun was met with wholesale critical acclaim, its mangled post-Dillinger intensity and cosmos shattering Gojira-esque thud somehow retaining that underground, basement show aesthetic whilst set against an astute lyrical backdrop of mental health concerns and sociopolitical anxieties. A difficult benchmark to top for sure, yet remarkably, Eternal Forward Motion is genuinely even better.
Less than ten seconds into the title-track’s opening demolition, it’s obvious Employed To Serve are just as belligerent, bellicose and exhilarating as they have ever been, the visceral thrills coming thick and fast as the band veer between jolts of adrenalised hardcore and tech-minded rhythmic deformity. Indeed, tracks like ‘Force Fed’ call to mind Vol. 3-era Slipknot given a powerviolence nitro boost, harnessing the sort of irresistible nu-metal bounce rarely heard this side of 2001, but with the rough edges and constant shower of broken teeth ensuring that the hardcore punk rev-counter is permanently wedged into the red. Special mention also must go to album highlight ‘Dull Ache Behind My Eyes’, where the spine-snapping intensity of Robbie Back’s blastbeats hit home like Trap Them in full flight.
As we would expect from previous outings there are a number of curve-balls here, not least the surging shoegaze touches from closer ‘Bare Bones On A Blue Sky’, yet for all its shrewd inventiveness Employed To Serve seem more content here with simply clobbering us square between the eyes. Indeed, never anything less than eyeball-poppingly incensed, vocalist Justine Jones is always front and centre, breathing fire into your ghostly, terror-stricken face, and even more than The Warmth Of A Dying Sun this is a record that feels like a furious reaction to something. Extreme times call for extreme reactions, and with all the band’s frustrations funnelled with this suitably unhinged and ostensibly pissed-off record, Eternal Forward Motion mostly just makes the listener want to barrel head first into a brick wall. Not that we condone that.
Eternal Forward Motion is out now on Spinefarm/Universal. Purchase here.
Words: Tony Bliss