Album Review: EMPLOYED TO SERVE Eternal Forward Motion
Summer is normally associated with bright sunshine, cloudless skies, and people greeting each other with wide smiles and kind words as they pass each other on the beach. By that standard, the UK has always been doing it wrong – and its inhabitants take a perverse pride in that fact. Employed To Serve – a band whose discography includes their previous albums Greyer Than You Remember and The Warmth of a Dying Sun, alongside tracks like “Beg for Rain” – have consistently reflected the British state of mind, and won plenty of hardcore-obsessed fans as a result.
Although the mainstream news media bombards consumers with the worst events that humanity has to deal with, Britain’s political and societal circumstances have genuinely entered a serious tailspin in recent years. There’s been little need to fall back on empty scaremongering for the sake of page views and ad revenue; with an entire generation left behind by its forebears, financially bereft and forced to deal with a culture that prioritizes Instagram likes over meaningful human interaction while prejudice and discrimination become increasingly normalized, it’s no surprise that the UK’s heavy music scene continues to go from strength to strength. This world is based on connection, community, and camaraderie – a far cry from the divisive attitudes nurtured by the increasingly xenophobic and socially atomised world around us – and bands like Employed To Serve play a key role in keeping this music-centric support network healthy and exciting.
Employed To Serve have never been afraid to highlight the impact that the aforementioned issues have had on their peers. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are inextricably linked to external and internal sources of stress – and slowly but surely, awareness of the above is expanding beyond the world of psychiatry. Employed To Serve are determined to keep that progress on track, using songs like this album’s ultimate highlight “Harsh Truth” to get the job done.
That track not only represents this band’s latest creative peak but also demonstrates how much life remains in a genre commonly dismissed as repetitive and mindless. “Harsh Truth” directly addresses depression, while its video artfully draws attention to suicide, a global issue that people understandably find hard to talk about. Meanwhile, Employed To Serve draw on influences as diverse as Deftones and Jamie Lenman while leading listeners through a ferocious yet accessible mass of guttural riffs, kinetic grooves, and bellicose vocals before finishing with a beatdown that will leave you patting your face, just to make sure it’s remained intact. “Harsh Truth” is truly flawless, and belongs on every modern hardcore fan’s favourite playlist.
Employed To Serve have cultivated a formidable reputation for unapologetic intelligence, near-peerless riffage, and more time-related plot twists than Avengers: Endgame. The above qualities remain present on Eternal Forward Motion, but there’s even more emphasis on space and songwriting this time out. Since this is the third album from a band who’ve been in the game for many years, and their first on a heavy-hitting label (Spinefarm / Universal Music Group), more mature and structurally streamlined efforts are par for the course at this point – and even the most cursory listen will make it clear that Employed To Serve aren’t going soft or selling out. Besides, vocalist Justine Jones works for Holy Roar Records – a British heavy music institution that champions bleeding-edge underground bands. It’s hard to imagine someone who knows the business that well falling into the kind of obvious traps that often ensnare the less knowledgeable and experienced.
Eternal Forward Motion is crammed with memorable moments, from the title track’s main hook to the claustrophobically tight riff that opens lead single “Force Fed” – to say nothing of the frantic and crushing “Dull Ache Behind My Eyes” and bruising latecomer “Reality Filter.” Employed To Serve have stated that this album defines them as a band – and they’re absolutely right. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to relate to this.