Employed to Serve’s last album, The Warmth of a Dying Sun, didn’t exactly come out of nowhere- the UK outfit already had a standout debut and a few years of increasingly ferocious live performances under their belt- but it did make a wholly unexpected impact. It earned the band spots on high profile tours and festival line ups, commercial success and critical acclaim, including taking the top spot in Kerrang!’s Album Of The Year list for 2017. Not bad for a project that started with two members and a drum machine.
In fact, the impact was such that it would have been all too easy, predictable even, for the band to be distracted by the prospect of mainstream metal success and soften their sound for the follow up. It wouldn’t have been selling out exactly but it would’ve been disappointing. Ten seconds into Eternal Forward Motion though, and it’s clear the five-piece are sticking to their guns and then some. The title track erupts from a squall of noise into a fidgety, fight-starting riff before taking its foot off the accelerator just enough to incorporate chunky grooves and a neat, almost-melodic guitar line.
Ok so first single “Force Fed” starts off like a Slipknot hit and features some of the cleanest vocals the band have recorded, and overall there’s less of the striking bottom end rumble they mined last time out, but it never feels like Employed To Serve are easing up, it only feels like they’re focusing in. “Beneath It All” sprinkles addictive discordant ear candy over chugging metal, “Harsh Truth” feels like its going to come stomping through your speakers, and if “Sore Tooth Twin” is a brief, slow-burning interlude from the fury, the final minute of “Dull Ache Behind My Eyes” is a relentless landslide of riffs and violence.
The album is front-heavy, most of the standout moments are in the first 20 minutes or so, but there’s a big finish. “Bare Bones on a Blue Sky” hinges on another propulsive riff, the kind that seems to come to Employed To Serve so easily, but boldly incorporates elements of space rock, searing post-hardcore, and, whisper it, melody too. It’s a closing track that signposts that, despite just how good this record is, the band behind it can get even better moving forward.