Employed to Serve: Conquering review – thrilling, gut-churning metal

The brilliant Woking band get heavier than ever, causing motion sickness with their animalistic, groove-laden songs

On this blistering record, which layers hardcore-infused thrash with a deadweight swing, Woking’s Employed to Serve deliver music well suited to apocalyptic times.

Employed to Serve: Conquering album art
Employed to Serve: Conquering album art Photograph: Publicity image

Formed in 2014 and inspired by the likes of Converge, Meshuggah and Rolo Tomassi – alongside a welter of more obscure hardcore and metal – the band was initially conceived by vocalist Justine Jones and guitarist/vocalist Sammy Urwin as a two-piece grindcore project. Quickly expanding to a full band for their 2015 debut LP, Greyer Than You Remember was a ferociously untethered affair, while their last album (2019’s Eternal Forward Motion) carried more overt nu-metal influences and upped the sense of groove. Conquering is, arguably, heavier still: more overtly metal, a bigger production, and powered as ever by the extraordinary vocal ability of Jones, who screams with remarkable pitch control and belting power while often trading lines with Urwin.

Universal Chokehold starts with an imperious trad metal vibe that quickly gives way to shredding and ludicrously propulsive blastbeats, while Exist’s stomping riff evokes late 90s groove metal.

We Don’t Need You is a slab of stop-start hardcore metal with a riff that calls to mind Helmet at their most obtuse, while Mark of the Grave hits the only duff note, leaning too heavily toward garish nu-metal histrionics. Most compelling is the animalistic title track – squealing atonal leads buffering against dampened arpeggios.

Indeed, the more extreme end of metal so often stands or falls on the ability of a band to inject the requisite rhythmic and atmospheric dynamism amid the face-melting aggression. Here Employed to Serve prove past masters – Conquering is a gut-churning thrill ride of an album, mercilessly designed for maximal sonic motion sickness.


Harry Sword

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ozzy Osbourne: Patient Number 9 review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week
The irrepressible rocker offsets his usual forays into the occult with moving contemplations of illness on a star-studded return

Alexis Petridis

08, Sep, 2022 @11:00 AM

Article image
‘Nature is hurting’: Gojira, the metal band confronting the climate crisis
With stirring songwriting that considers grief, philosophy and ecological collapse, the French quartet have become one of the world’s greatest heavy bands. They discuss their journey so far

Matt Mills

30, Apr, 2021 @8:00 AM

Article image
Metal, cosmic barbarians and a judge called Dick Boner: the glorious grotesquery of Gwar
Weathering tragedy and censorship, the US shock-metal monsters are still going strong nearly 40 years on. But are the giant penises still part of the act?

Dave Everley

15, Jul, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Babymetal: Metal Galaxy review
The band’s third, and possibly best, album combines their familiar sugary pop melodies mashed with thrashing metal

Dean Van Nguyen

11, Oct, 2019 @9:00 AM

Article image
Cave In: Heavy Pendulum review – an unapologetically fierce beast
With gargantuan riffs and amps turned up to 11, pure metal is tempered with the grace and complexity that have become the band’s trademark

Stevie Chick

20, May, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
Rammstein: Zeit review – ridiculous, but no risk of boredom
The Gothic, operatic metallers deliver hook after hook on an album so streamlined and efficient you can almost hear the pyro cues

Michael Hann

29, Apr, 2022 @7:30 AM

Article image
Metallica: 72 Seasons review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week
With weighty lyrics referencing James Hetfield’s ongoing recovery and harking back to the band’s formative British influences, 72 Seasons has the edge of Metallica’s 80s heyday – albeit one blunted by overlong songs

Alexis Petridis

13, Apr, 2023 @11:00 AM

Article image
While She Sleeps: Sleeps Society review | Ben Beaumont-Thomas's album of the week
The noisy Sheffield band fully realise their pop potential on their fifth album, as they vent thrillingly about society’s manifold ills

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

15, Apr, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Nova Twins: Supernova review | Alexis Petridis's album of the week
The genre-splicing pair’s sharp, concise songwriting makes for a mindblowing blast of distorted noise-pop – and destroys the narrative about who gets to make rock music

Alexis Petridis

16, Jun, 2022 @11:00 AM

Article image
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs: Land of Sleeper review – doom rockers refine mind-bending sound
With repeated rhythmic blows and pulsing bass licks, the Newcastle band amplify the volume on their fourth album and keep listeners entrenched in their heady cosmos

Matt Mills

17, Feb, 2023 @8:30 AM