Employed To Serve are a brutal heavy band from Woking, England. Having enjoyed previous success from their previous albums Greyer Than You Remember, and The Warmth of a Dying Sun, they have been able to play alongside bands like Code Orange, Counterparts, Underoath, Stick To Your Guns, and others of that magnitude. After all this, they are due to take it to the next level and are looking to do this with their brand-new album Eternal Forward Motion.
Opening with the title track, the album sets a steady tone that it sticks to throughout its run time. Powerful and brutal instruments run alongside some of the more hectic hardcore vocals you will find, to create an incredibly hardened sound. Punchy verses, a soaring chorus, and insanity-inducing breakdowns make you feel like you are standing on the edge of the world about to fall.
This vibe continues throughout the album, as tracks “Beneath It All”, “Suspended In Emptiness”, and “Bare Bones on a Blue Sky”, work especially hard to create an atmosphere through this insanely heavy sound. Each song sticks to the Employed To Serve version of the classic heavy sound, but still adds in its own unique piece of flare. While from a distance, songs appear to be similar, when you really break it down and take a closer look, there is so much going on in the instrumentals and the vocals. All of it is working towards this atmosphere, and this atmosphere varies in its tone.
Nightmarish at times yet consistently empowering, this ferocious musical tone sends adrenaline pumping through you with every track. “Dull Ache Behind My Eyes” features an unrelating 3 minutes blast, spitting vocals, neck snapping verses, and a seemingly never-ending dreamlike breakdown. This flows flawlessly into “Harsh”, which takes a raw and gritty approach as the dirty bass, echoing dreams, and filthy vocals tear through you as you listen.
With this, they aren’t afraid to mix up the song structure, as tracks like “We Forgot You” and “Owed Zero” have their own characteristics that other songs don’t have that make them stand out. “We Forgot You” involves an intense focus on inconsistency, as the unrelenting changing of pace allows the drums to shine on their own using gripping technical fills. “Owed Zero” is kicked into gear with flickers of brutal revving guitar. Technical riffs offer a release from the deep and dark heavy guitars and show that Employed to Serve can do the progressive instrumentals just as well. Mixing it up perfectly, the animalistic vocals are a highlight, as the brutal growling screams add the extra intensity needed to hammer home what they were looking for.
Eternal Forward Motion closes just as strong as it starts, as “Bare Bones on a Blue Sky” offers an incredibly unique take on their heavy sound. An unusual case of clean vocals opens the track and works with the echoing guitars to build an emotionally powerful atmosphere. This transfers to a strange feeling of rock and roll, as the guitars and drums take on a traditional rocking feel. The screams join the fray and add the spice and intensity needed to create the incredibly overall sound of heaviness and power that an album like this needs to finish on. “Bare Bones on a Blue Sky” is an absolute highlight, and is the perfect way to close out.
Eternal Forward Motion offers a unique perspective on a heavy sound. As a new listener of the band, I was taken aback by how effectively they could make it their own. They created an effective and powerful atmosphere throughout and set themselves apart from other bands like them in a big way. The vocals, in particular, were especially good, and are the most integral part to the vibe that Employed To Serve create. This is a very enjoyable album, and I would highly recommend checking it out as it is an increasingly unique and brutal album.
Hatchie – Keepsake
Keepsake, the debut album by Brisbane dream pop artist Hatchie is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars
Brisbane indie-pop artist Hatchie (known to her friends and family as Harriette Pilbeam) is in the envious position of being a pop artist unspoiled by the many trappings of what it is to be a modern pop artist. Unlike some of her contemporaries who craft music by committee or with Sheeran-like self-importance, Hatchie is as of now, unsullied by the pressures of the cookie-cutter pop machine. Hatchie’s debut full length is a showcase for a talent who is supremely confident and composed in her abilities, and Keepsake is musical luminescence that can only be described as music written for the stars. The album is also a wonderful throwback to pop’s dreamy 60s influences that shuffle in and out of this delirium while working alongside distinctly more current musical touches.
There is the lush dream pop sounds of “Without a Blush”, taking cues from the best of what Stars and Goldfrapp conjure but heaping a tonne of Pilbeam’s charisma on it. Like her vocals, “Without a Blush” has this elegance that has the ability to elevate songs from being beautiful to grand. It is the kind of vocal elegance that really shines through on songs like the skittering, beat-driven “Obsessed” and the alternative, guitar-fuelled (yay!) “When I Get Out”. Indie/electronic closer “Keep” is a wonderful end to proceedings.
However, the great strength of Keepsake is not just its composure in how all the songs have been put together. It is also this genuine, natural-sounding quality that permeates the album- nothing overly written, overly produced or put together by research groups or music analysts. It just sounds like talent. We can argue that much of pop music is constructed to appease the moment- designed to grab as much attention as possible in an A.D.D. world. And sure, that can be said about almost any kind of music, but the resulting aural tone of Keepsake is anything but transient or transparent.
The best way to combat tepid chart-topping music is to write better pop songs. Songs like “Her Own Heart” and the disco-toned “Stay” are examples of pop music that come across as timeless. We are moved by the songs found on Keepsake when we listen to them today. And I suspect that in 10 years time, or in 20, we will most likely feel the same. It is rare to find the sort of ageless beauty you find on Keepsake.