Employed to Serve – Conquering (Spinefarm Records)

We’re coming out of lockdown and seeing all the COVID babies from our favourite bands, and it feels good. Some of us baked bread. Some got shredded, some found a spare tire. Employed to Serve found a new level.

At their core, this band hasn’t changed. But they’ve grown.

Vocals aren’t just the domain of Justine Jones. They’re now shared with her husband Will Urwin, and man it sounds good. The extra voice has brought another layer to the band and given them another avenue to explore.

For a band that started as a grindcore duo backed by a drum machine, they’ve come a long way. This new record features a bit more melody, a bit more pace and that’ll broaden their appeal. 

Jones still obliterates her vocal cords for your entertainment, delivering a rough and gruff sound that instantly transports you to a different place.There’s still those big, dirty, grinding riffs – especially on The Mistake, which rides the line between old and new to perfection.

This pivot towards a sound more metal than hardcore doesn’t mean they’ve lost the fire, the grit or the punch that made Eternal Forward Motion such a wild ride. There’s just more of the stuff that made Force Fed such a genre-spanning hit, and for so many of us, that’s good news.

We Don’t Need You features a breakdown that you just know is going to be a moment we all wait for when ETS tour again.

Mark of the Grave is the most obviously ‘new’ sounding track, and it’s phenomenal. A real bruising experience, vocals by Urwin give it a deep, menacing feel. 

In an interview with Kerrang!, Jones said she won’t make music that ‘doesn’t excite her.’ Well, she must have blown her own socks off recording Conquering because it’s just about the most exciting album ROR has listened to all year.

Jones and Unwin allowed all their old metal influences to come to the fore, fused them with the stuff ETS did well already and unleashed this monster upon us – all while picking up the pieces from the Holy Roar controversy. We do not deserve them.