Employed To Served's Conquering: metalcore aggressors discover a new groove

Employed To Serve pivot from metalcore to groove and even death metal on ambitious new album Conquering

Employed To Serve Conquering Cover
(Image: © Spinefarm)

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On the title track of their last album, 2019’s Eternal Forward Motion, Employed To Serve frontwoman Justine Jones screamed, ‘There is no time to worship yesterday!’ The lyric was meant to summarise the millennial/Gen Z condition: having to work tirelessly for opportunities thanks to elder generations hoarding power. However, it can just as readily be applied to the band themselves, who’ve only refined their metalcore with every battering dished out. Conquering’s manifesto is the polar opposite. Kneeling at the altar of American groove metal, this fourth full-length indulges its creators’ nostalgia for Lamb Of God and early Machine Head. In the process it becomes their most surprising aural assault, without sacrificing any of the mosh-inciting bedlam we all crave.

Opener Universal Chokehold demonstrates the new arsenal in use. A gentle guitar melody gradually escalates, embellished by strings and swelling percussion, before descending into a cavalcade of screeching riffs. Guitarist Sammy Urwin completes his transition to co-lead singer, darting off Jones’s wails with both growls and hoarse cleans. Following a wah-wah-powered solo, a breakdown worthy of Burn My Eyes-style pummels.

The metallic ragers just keep torrenting. Jones and Urwin roar in unison over Sun Up To Sundown’s stomping sludge, while the muddy shred that commences Mark Of The Grave feels freshly plucked from Willie Adler’s fretboard. World Ender subsequently strips back to only the most basic of heavy music necessities: slow chugs and a marching drum beat. The apex, though, comes from The Mistake, gleefully diving into death metal and exploding with blastbeats and tremolo picking.

For metalheads who aren’t yet sold on Employed To Serve’s unstinting aggression, there’s no better jumping-on point than right here. Conquering proves they can reminisce just as well as they drive forward, opening up a plethora of options for past sounds that they can recreate – but nastier.

Conquering is out September 17 via Spinefarm

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.