Date: May 10th, 2019
Venue: The Garage, London
Support: Devil Sold His Soul / Loathe
Employed To Serve may have a claim to being one of the biggest success stories from the British hardcore scene in recent years, with the band achieving Kerrang!‘s Album Of The Year accolade for 2017’s ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’, and a graduation from Holy Roar Records to Universal subsidiary Spinefarm Records.
Now, the band are about to fill a room virtually double the size of the venues they’ve been playing in previous years. Today is the day that Employed To Serve release their sonic punch to the gut that is their third album, ‘Eternal Forward Motion’, and it’s time to party.
Kicking off proceedings are Liverpool hard-hitters Loathe , who certainly get the crowd going. Playing amongst the backdrop of their signature monochrome TV screens, the band’s haphazard, eclectic brand of metalcore goes down very strongly indeed, with Eric Bickerstaffe‘s clean vocals offering a great melodic counterpart to Kadeem France‘s screams.
The band invite some audience participation, with fans holding up their phones with minimal house lighting at one point. With their debut album ‘The Cold Sun’ and their split EP with Holding Absence helping gaining them attention recently, they could truly be a force to reckoned with in the future based on this showing.
Next up are mainstays Devil Sold His Soul , making a somewhat rare live appearance. It’s a nice touch that a band artistically sound as Devil Sold His Soul are on tonight’s bill; the dual vocal delivery of Ed Gibbs and Paul Green shines through well. ‘End Of Days’ holds up strongly, and their melding of Will Haven-esque alternative metal and more atmospheric moments prove to be very fluid and intertwined impressively.
However, there’s just a bit of emotional bite and attack lacking in comparison to the acts that they’re playing in between, proven by the somewhat muted response from the crowd, but nevertheless it’s a solid offering.
Now comes the moment that we’ve all been waiting for. Employed To Serve  waste no time at all. The first song tonight is also the opener and the title-track of their freshly released third album, ‘Eternal Forward Motion’, which may sum up the band in one phrase. If you’ve been to any Employed To Serve show, you’ll know that they’re normally an intense, raucous affair, but the fact that it’s in a bigger venue tonight feel more like a triumph.
If you wanted any reminders as to why this band are in the position they are, plenty of cuts of ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ are included in tonight’s set, with both ‘Platform 89’ and ‘Lethargy’ getting an airing. But, given that many fans are riding the wave of album release day, with plenty of time to get themselves ready, it’s time for some material from ‘Eternal Forward Motion’ too.
‘Owed Zero’‘s crushing groove and spider-like guitar riffs cut through impeccably, and ‘Harsh Truth’ also goes down a treat, with its lyrics having clearly resonated with tonight’s crowd, but the true highlight, after the transition from ‘Sore Tooth Twin’, is the song that may become their calling card, ‘Force Fed’. Vocalist Justine Jones‘ shrieks and guitarist Sammy Urwin‘s vocal melodies make their stamp all over the song, and soon utter bedlam ensues, getting the loudest sing along out of many loud sing alongs this evening.
More Employed To Serve staples follow, with the infectious hardcore anthem ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)’ and ‘Never Falls Far’ closing up the set. Tonight, Employed To Serve have shown that you can play unrelentingly heavy music, and still make it resonate on a sizable scale. ‘Eternal Forward Motion’ is approaching a day old at this point, and it’s apparent that tonight feels like the beginning of the beginning for one of the UK’s most exciting bands.