If ever awards were given for the most appropriate album name, British hardcore quintet Employed To Serve would be a dead cert for the 2019 trophy with Eternal Forward Motion. Since dropping their 2015 debut album, Greyer Than You Remember, the band have barely strayed beyond touching distance of a stage or recording studio. Arriving just a couple of months shy of the second birthday of their excellent second album, The Warmth of a Dying Sun, third outing Eternal Forward Motion finds Employed To Serve in particularly rude health, and riding a tidal wave of momentum.
Whilst the album’s title actually speaks to vocalist Justine Jones’ broader lyrical themes about the frustrations of trying to find lasting happiness in a world that is constantly changing, and the exhaustion of trying to keep apace with everything, Eternal Forward Motion is still an appropriate title for one more reason: It will hit you with the relentless, unstoppable force of a runaway freight train.
The third album in a band’s career is often where they will start to ease off the throttle a bit, but if anything Eternal Forward Motion is even more ferocious than The Warmth Of A Dying Sun. The bleaker, more desolate elements of its predecessor have been dialed back, and replaced with a more focused fury. Overall, the guitar tones are noticeably crisper and thicker, and the riffs choppier, shifting the metallic hardcore mix a notch or two towards the metallic. Eternal Forward Motion is more of an evolution than a revolution in terms of Employed To Serve’s overall sound and modus operandi, but in the interim they have been honed and toned into a sleeker, more efficient moshpit generation machine.
Make no mistake, Eternal Forward Motion is an album largely written for the pit. With the exception of an interlude track and the introduction to closing track “Bare Bones On A Blue Sky”, there’s no lighters-in-the-air, gently swaying moments here, but a battery of riff-stuffed shitkickers ready to give you a forty minute mauling. And it is exhilarating. Of course, the most effective hardcore is structured around delivering a particularly devastating breakdown, and there are several satisfying payoffs to be found here, not least when the brawny riff of “Beneath It All” returns at half-speed. “Reality Filter” kicks off at prime circle-pit tempo before shifting down through the gears and ending up in Conjurer-esque sludge. Meaty.
Second single “Harsh Truth” neatly illustrates the band’s progression, feeling like the ideological heir to “I Spent My Days (Wishing Them Away)” but is a tauter, snappier anthem for the disaffected.
Much like the rest of the album, the track is peppered with deft little flourishes – a one-drop here, a pick-scrape or dive bomb there, a cheeky extra stab in its truly monolithic coda. These extra touches reward repeat listens, giving additional depth to an album that fundamentally just wants to kick you in the chest like a ten tonne mule. Justine and guitarist Sammy Urwin have also developed into a potent vocal tag-team, giving an extra layer of texture alongside the band’s signature wailing lead guitar parts. Even if that extra layer is various flavours of screaming bloody murder.
In the brief moments where Employed To Serve do take the foot off the gas, we get a potential glimpse into the future. It’s entirely plausible that if the band ever lose their appetite for writing moshpit stompers, they will evolve instead into a powerful and atmospheric post-metal outfit. The interludes and the surprisingly expansive chorus of the album’s title track are early evidence of this.
But it’s equally clear that isn’t about to happen any time soon. The band are quite obviously having a tremendous amount of fun with their beefy belligerence, and the increased maturity in their songwriting gives this new batch of songs a laser-guided potency. This seeming shift in mood from “Boy, everything sucks” to “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” has translated into a potent adrenaline shot of vitality, and one that is sure to be compounded further when they take these songs to the stage. Eternal Forward Motion is raw, furious and thrilling in equal measure. Brace yourself.
Eternal Forward Motion is released through Spinefarm Records on May 10th