I would like to preface my following article by stating clearly that hardcore metal is not typically in my current rotation of music. Sure, I love the occasional Incendiary or Behemoth, but on a day-to-day basis, I find myself listening to much lighter sounds. Maybe it’s my age, but I really have to be in the right headspace for me to actively scroll through Spotify, seeking out anything aggressive. When I was younger (and most angsty), I gravitated to the genre, but, nowadays, I like to chill out more often than not. In other words, it’s rare for me to care that a band like Employed To Serve just put out a new album. But, I suppose I should quote Oli Sykes (of Bring Me the Horizon) in saying, “They are one of the few metal bands I actually like”.
In January of 2016, I found myself wandering around the cold streets of London with a group of guys I had met at a hostel. We were looking for something to do that evening and happened to be passing by a bar called The Old Blue Last. A few friendly gentlemen smoking cigarettes outside the front entrance emplored us to check out the show that evening. As fate would have it, we decided to attend. I can’t for the life of me remember the names of any other bands on the lineup and I can’t tell you many details from the show, but will never forget it was my first time seeing Employed To Serve. They weren’t just good, they were amazing. They are the type of band you can’t stop thinking about for weeks after seeing them live. Their energy and untamed chaos poured into the streets of that cold January night. They have the type of talent most others only dream about having.
I knew I would be hooked on this band forever.
When I heard their latest album Conquering was being released September 17th, I was so eager to listen, I waited until midnight for Spotify to unleash it upon my world. “Universal Chokehold” kicks the album off with some ethereal and haunting opening chords, but it’s nothing more than the calm before the storm. It somewhat reminds me of what Machine Head does on their acclaimed album The Blackening — lulling you into a false sense of security before punching you in the face. The album blisters through “Exist” and “Twist The Blade” onward to my favorite song on the album “Sun Up To Sun Down”. This song has some of the best grooves I have heard in a very long time. It just continues to punish without letdown; it’s aggressive, but contains a very positive and uplifting vibe. I felt energized and excited as I listened, much in the same ways old Pantera used to make me feel… head-banging and air-drumming to the embarrassment of friends and family around me.
“Mark Of The Grave”, “Set In Stone” and “The Mistake” are three more tracks that stand out for me as perfect metal songs although I can’t really find a singular complaint about anything on this album. It might be hard for many other music fans to relate to an album filled with brutal back-crushing riffs and aggressive screaming, but I consider this a feel-good album. In a world where you can hardly go a few minutes without seeing something negative on the news, it’s great to know bands like Employed To Serve are creating wonderful musical escapes: mental spaces, where people can go to let off some steam and get out some of that pent-up energy that the last couple of years of social-distancing and quarantine have wrought upon us. 10/10! This album is a work of hardcore metal art!
Purchase or stream ” album:
- Universal Chokehold
- Twist The Blade
- Sun Up To Sun Down
- The Mistake
- We Don’t Need You
- Set In Stone
- Mark Of The Grave
- World Ender
- Stand Alone
Employed To Serve – “Mark Of The Grave”
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.