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Employed to Serve - Conquering Award winner

Employed to Serve
Conquering
by Mark Machlay at 04 January 2022, 5:53 AM

After hunkering down due to the pandemic following their European festival circuit, Woking, U.K. female-fronted Metalcore band EMPLOYED TO SERVE have re-emerged with their fourth full-length “The Conquering” released in October of 2021. The band began as a Grindcore bedroom project between vocalist Justine Jones and now husband “Sammy Urwin” on guitar. They soon enlisted a more completed lineup the next year with guitarist James Jackson bassist Jamie Venning and drummer Robbie Black joining. Quickly they gained attention from their live shows, earning them a contract with Holy Roar Records who would release their first two albums. Their explosive full-length debut came in 2015 with “Greyer Than You Remember” with math-like guitar rhythms, breakneck drumming and harsh vocal shrieks. Jackson would depart with guitarist Richard Jacobs joining for their heavier sophomore effort “The Warmth of a Dying Sun” in 2017. Venning would then leave with bassist Marcus Gooda joining for the doom and sludge-heavy third full-length “Eternal Forward Motion” in 2019.

So, at the end of 2019 and into the beginning of 2020, EMPLOYEED TO SERVE were riding high with an acclaimed third album and Urwin and Jones finally wedding on New Year’s Eve, but soon had to reassess their next move as the pandemic locked down all live performances. As is common with life, they had to take stock as several members wanted to do different things with their life. Guitarist Richard Jacobs left to move to Japan with his wife, drummer Robbie Black had just become a father, and bassist Marcus Gooda simply wanted to focus on other things. Unable to fight the metal urge, Urwin and Jones soldiered on recruiting nearly a whole new band with David Porter on guitar, Nathan Pryor on bass and Casey McHale on drums. “Conquering” seems to represent a more authentic and fresher take for the band, leaning heavier into their past stylistic influences of death metal and classic thrash from bands like MORBID ANGEL and DEATH. Jones notes, “It’s where I feel at home, as well, because I grew up listening to early LAMB OF GOD and ‘90s-era Roadrunner Records bands…Straight-up metal, but not straight-up metal in the sense that we’re doing it by numbers. We sound like us, but there are more choruses and solos.”

When the band unleashed the “Exist” single back in late June, it was clear that EMPLOYED TO SERVE had come a long way from just a bedroom project and continued to grow and be a true force in the Metalcore scene. I really love the open hi-hat hits – something I don’t hear from metal bands these days as they commonly keep them closed forever – on the vocal punctuations, essentially screaming out “This. Is. Hell!” It serves to really highlight the highs and lows of simply existing. But then on the next track “Twist The Blade”, Urwin himself is coming into his own as an alternative, serving up some clean vocals while at other times throughout the album, even joins her with distorted vocals. Where they showcase their dichotomy best is on the “The Mistake” in which they straddle a firm line between hardcore and tech death metal styles. There is a nice mix of newer styles in the mix, showing some hardcore and even edging into groove metal with “Sun Up To Sun Down”, SLAYER-like guitar solos on the groovy, yet trashy “World Ender”, or even the LAMB OF GOD-like cadences and structure on “We Don’t Need You”. They are moving much more metal than-core with this record but fans of either side will eat this album up.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Universal Chokehold
2. Exist
3. Twist the Blade
4. Sun Up to Sun Down
5. The Mistake
6. We Don’t Need You
7. Set in Stone
8. Mark of the Grave
9. World Ender
10. Conquering
11. Stand Alone
Lineup:
Justine Jones – Vocals
Sammy Urwin – Guitar/Vocals
David Porter – Guitar
Nathan Pryor – Bass
Casey McHale – Drums
Record Label: Spinefarm Records
     


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