On the title track of their last album, 2019’s Eternal Forward Motion, Employed To Serve (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) with every battering dished out. Conquering’s manifesto is the polar opposite. Kneeling at the altar of American groove metal (opens in new tab), this fourth full-length indulges its creators’ nostalgia for Lamb Of God (opens in new tab) and early Machine Head (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab)-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