Release Date: 10th May 2019
Genre: Groove Metal / Hardcore
The brightest spark of UK heavy music, Employed To Serve, return off the back of 2017’s widely acclaimed The Warmth Of A Dying Sun with major label debut Eternal Forward Motion. Starting their career as a brilliantly manic underground prospect, the band have stretched their creative tendrils into a plethora of expansive styles, backed by a dedicated fanbase and increasingly formidable live presence. Where its predecessor strained against the chains of a twisted, oppressive society, this latest monolith of grinding riffs from the Woking quintet serves as a violent call to arms for a disgruntled generation lost in the noise of a faceless social media age.
Eternal Forward Motion shows a band shedding most of the atmospheric baggage that typified their earlier work in favour of laser-focused, mid-paced groove and pummeling intensity. Vocally, their notoriously on-the-nose subject matter has been stepped up a notch with power couple Justine Jones and Sammy Urwin building upon the fearsome interplay they started incorporating on Warmth… and getting it down to a fine art. Just listen to the final call-and-response beatdown of lead single ‘Force Fed’ with it’s Korn style quiet-loud dynamic, “I’ve heard your views/force fed it”, providing one of many true yell-along choruses that burst from the album’s seams.
It’s not just the improvement in performance that makes Eternal Forward Motion so great, the stunning, low-end heavy production job provides the band a whole new level of bone-crunching weight. Whilst Warmth… felt more scratchy and raw, this is a far grander affair with a slick, modern sheen, while somehow managing to feel darker and more nihilistic than either of its forebears. Welcoming comparisons to Botch, Norma Jean and The Acacia Strain, ETS have found a perfect balance between chaos and catchiness without compromising their established musical fingerprint. ‘Beneath It All’ begins like something from Wake The Dead-era Comeback Kid before being warped and twisted into a monster dissonant groove, while ‘Harsh Truth’ breaches metal anthem territory with its ultra-pissed chorus and powerful lyrical narrative.
In a record that’s already jacked up beyond reason, the band have doubled down on the breakdowns big time, resulting in some of the most explosive drops in recent memory. Cuts like ‘Dull Ache Behind The Eyes’, and the title track, contain mosh parts that would surely give Code Orange a run for their money. Despite the more polished sound, there’s something distinctly gritty and British about ETS that always prevails, lending a real sense of catharsis and righteous anger to every moment.
If there is to be a star of the show, it has to go to Justine Jones, who pushes her distinctive banshee shriek to a new level of scathing intensity, cutting through the bulky mix like a hypodermic needle to the eye. As with any great rock album, Eternal Forward Motion is full of gigantic moments that will surely earn this exceptional band their spot in hardcore’s A-list. Just take the brutal, yet earworm main riff of ‘We Forgot You’, that unstoppable vocal interplay of ‘Force Fed’ and, most notably, the “OWED NOTHING, TAKE EVERYTHING” mosh call of ‘Owed Zero’. ETS have a level of talent and execution that an endless list of bands would give an arm and a leg to possess.
Eternal Forward Motion is the definition of a complete package – striking visuals, captivating/relatable lyrical themes and a real sense of collaborative energy, with each member injecting their own flavour into the corrosive sonic cocktail. Groove metal is a genre that is constantly attempted but rarely nailed, but these guys have got it spot on. ETS have opened a window into the dark future of underground metal, forcing it into the wider consciousness of the alternative music scene, whilst harking back to the sheer “fuck you” factor of classics like Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven. This is less of a collection of great metal songs, but more a rallying cry for a generation who have all the cards stacked up against them. This band are out for blood…don’t get in their way.
Recommended Track: ‘Force Fed’