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Employed to Serve - Conquering (Album Review)

Wednesday, 22 September 2021 Written by Jacob Brookman

Employed to Serve’s last album was called ‘Eternal Forward Motion’, and its title has become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy for the Woking metallers led by Justine Jones and guitarist-vocalist Sammy Urwin. Emerging from their latest bout of line up changes, the band are back with a new record and a tweaked sound.

‘Conquering’ retains the devastating intensity of their previous three albums but the production is more expansive, with increasingly complex yet cogent song forms and better interplay between the two singer-growlers. It’s a real trip. 

We open with Universal Chokehold, a raucous firestorm of a track somewhere between trad and nu metal, with Jones’ guttural doom speak ghoulishly interplaying with Urwin’s backup vocals.

This duetting is one of the most effective arrangement choices on an album that maintains interest despite its commitment to absolute ferocity. 

This is likely down to the versatility of the songwriting. Tracks like We Don’t Need You are primal ceremonials sitting alongside more familiar metal fare like Exist, which is all concrete grooves and hellish guitar trickery. It’s detailed, intricate rock music underpinned by propulsive riffs and an acute awareness of rhythmic variation.

The title track is a great example of this dynamic, opening with a cadenza-like falling sequence, jumping into three different blastbeats before settling on a tom-led 16-beat that arrives like a steam train, and changes again before the track is done. It's terrific stuff and Jones' vocals are as distinctive as they are terrifying. She is busy establishing herself as one of the best in the game.

Due to the nature of metal as a genre, and the sometimes tribal lines drawn between its sub genres, often bands discard musical diversity in favour of devotion to a particular sound. This is never the case with ‘Conquering’. It’s a tremendous record full of invention and chutzpah, and with a sometimes surprising wealth of melody. It slightly conks out towards the end, on the grungy Stand Alone, but for the most part hits its marks in terms of what we might expect from a grinding, explosive metal LP—a rollercoaster ride through hell.


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