Looking back upon it, it’s amazing how many different places hardcore punk has brought us, genre-wise; from metallic hardcore to grindcore to mathcore and crust punk and powerviolence and everything in between, it’s been an interesting evolution to pay attention to.
What’s more interesting, though, is how these different sounds have split apart and then reunited throughout the years in fucking awesome combinations, whether we’re talking about the grind/powerviolence blend of Nails or the blackened hardcore of a band like Young and In the Way.
And so we come to Employed To Serve. How this band managed to pass over our heads for this long (aside from having their name briefly mentioned in an interview) is sort of a shame, quite frankly, as this is a band that has not only been active since 2012 ( at least according to Bandcamp), but has released a significant amount of material in the last four years (with their third album, Greyer Than You Remember, being the focus of attention this time around), and it’s goddamn amazing.
Honestly, if you enjoy the likes of Converge, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Rolo Tomassi, you will not be disappointed with Employed To Serve; they play a style of mathcore that manages to fuse incredibly catchy riffs, head-banging grooves, and some more melodic hardcore tendencies with some of the most chaotic time signatures and stroke-inducing riffs you’ll hear outside of a Psyopus album.
The crown on this band, so to speak, is the band’s vocalist, Justine Jones, who manages to bring both an insane amount of power and a significant chunk of emotion to the music with her vocals. (Some might want to compare Ms. Jones to Rolo Tomassi’s Eva Spence, but while Spence dishes out vocals with a sort of delicacy that, frankly, reminds me of the brokenness and raw emotion of a hardcore Billie Holiday, Jones communicates those same emotions through one vocal style alone.)
Essentially, Greyer Than You Remember eats up the best of what hardcore has to offer nowadays and spits out an insane, topsy-turvy, and incredibly powerful interpretation of those sounds. “Bones to Break,” despite starting off relatively heavy, gives way to a significant amount of emotion via its instrumentals, which is then only heightened by Jones’s throat-shredding screams. “Live Without” screams nihilism, but in a way that makes you only want to turn the volume up more.
If you give one new band a try today, I highly highly recommend listening to Employed To Serve. If I had known about this band last year, I have no doubt that Greyer Than You Remember would be in my top ten albums of the year; its energy is addictive, and its musicality makes a repeat listen worth it every time.