It seems like with the release of their sophomore record ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ in May, Woking collective Employed To Serve have been employed to claw their way from out of the underground, into the wider world of their more established contemporaries, and to trample all underfoot who get in their way. They begin their campaign of dominance with their first headline UK tour.
Local punk rockers Dead Retinas  begin the evening’s proceedings, and, frontman CJ Smith has a surprise up his sleeve… well, under his shirt. A couple of songs into the set, he lifts it off to reveal a leather harness strapped around his body, before pouncing into the middle of the floor below the stage, and pace and yell along. Songs like ‘You Go Glenn Coco’ and ‘Sins Of The Father’ are certainly fast-paced, and get heads bopping along to the sounds of their fellow Mancunians.
Keeping it local, main support outfit Pijn  (that’s pronounced “pine”, but is Dutch for “pain”) are much less in-your-face, and, as a mostly instrumental band, it’s evidently much more about the experience and application of each member. Admittedly, the mix more often and not sees all of the other members overpowering the cellist, who due to the shifting nature of the band’s line-up we’re unable to name.
Guitarist Joe Clayton on one or two brief occasions showcases his almost Nergal-like roars, but even with the almost complete omission of a cello, Pijn truly grasp us by the scruff of our necks, and take us on a journey from start-to-finish that we don’t want to end.
It’s Employed To Serve’s  time to close the evening off, beginning their set with the stage in complete darkness before a stark blood red light lights up the band, and they kick right into set opener, ‘Void Ambition’. Their surge through the ranks of the underground in the past couple of years is certainly justified; their cuts one after another are equally feral as they are calculated, and with the blood curdling shrieks and screams from vocalist Justine Jones, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re fronted by the Pazuzu possessed Regan MacNeil of The Exorcist.
‘Watching Films To Forget I Exist’ and ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ also act as some set highlights, with Jones continuing to wail without a flaw whilst Sammy Urwin occasionally barks into his microphone, and Richard Jacobs thrashes about the stage with his guitar with the limited room he has left onstage.
Heads bang in unison alongside the sludgy sledgehammer slab of ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’ before they return with the final blow of ‘Bury Yourself (Deep)’, affirming that there’s a lot more on the cards for this lot yet.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)