Review: Employed To Serve – Greyer Than You Remember
Back in the early 2000’s, chaotic hardcore was dominated by bands like Botch, The Chariot, Coalesce, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. It seems to have fizzled out over the years with newer bands failing to make as much of an impact as those that forged it’s identity. The debut album from the UK’s Employed To Serve harkens back to the early ‘aughts and delivers an adrenaline shot to chaotic hardcore. Greyer Than You Remember should be in consideration for one of the heaviest records of the year.
Employed To Serve relies heavily on the noisy chord phrasings used by Botch and abused by Norma Jean on their first couple of albums. But this is a healthy abuse as they demonstrate the ability to work them into each song on Greyer Than You Remember without it sounding repetitive or bland. They are heavy on the breakdowns but the structure of their songs have meaning and purpose. Parts seldom repeat but Employed To Serve aren’t tossing a jigsaw puzzle at you and saying “here, you figure this out”, every change transitions from one part to the next without coming across as a distraction. There’s not a moment where any riff or part seems out of place. It’s all by design as you can feel the energy and emotion they play with. The drummer is beating the ever loving shit out his drum kit while the guitars spew vast amounts of noisy dissonance at every turn. The low end bass rounds out the attack to further amplify those moments when things go delightfully awry. The recording sounds as if it were a straight out of Kurt Ballou’s God City Studios with drums punching hard upfront along with a warm organic guitar tone that breathes freely throughout the mix. Everything sounds huge. These elements all work together on “Watching Films To Forget I Exist” as they storm through the track using an up tempo styling reminiscent of Coalesce before closing out the song by foreshadowing an excellent sludgy breakdown with some clever use of a noisy ringing guitar interlude. The entire record is loaded with great moments like this.
If you’re a fan of the vocal stylings of Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Kat Katz then you’ll appreciate the screaming of Justine Jones. If the music isn’t already enough to captivate you, the vocal performance on this album takes things to another level. You can hear the intensity in Ms. Jones’ voice as she screams and shrieks throughout the entire record. She really puts some of her male counter parts to shame with the passion and energy that she brings to the table. On “Bones To Break”, Employed To Serve venture into post hardcore territory, making use of some melodic elements. But if you are waiting for some clean singing to accompany this, you’re not going to get it. Instead you get more heartfelt shouting along with some gruff hardcore backing vocals to compliment the highs. The tension builds midway through the song as it reaches it’s climax and ends with a powerful soaring melodic display that sends everything crashing down.
Another standout track is “No One’s Perfect, This Includes You” which starts off with a noisy Botch inspired riff backed by the choppy drumming that defines The Dillinger Escape Plan’s faster material. The riff resurfaces later in the track to give it the breakdown treatment which is guaranteed to take hold of you and almost have you start your own personal mosh pit wherever you happen to be. Finishing things off is the closer “As Cold As Rest” which begins with some spoken word over some clean guitar before finally giving way to an avalanche of pummeling sludge as Employed To Serve put the finishing touches on this aural assault. Instead of going out pleasantly, they go out violently just like the rest of the record. A fitting end to an album that starts out on the same note.
Verdict: Greyer Than You Remember is a throwback to the chaotic hardcore of the early 2000’s in the here and now. This album is ten rounds of hand to hand combat in which you get knocked out every round. The attack delivered on Greyer Than You Remember will leave you hemorrhaging and in dire need of a blood transfusion that is only supplied when you hit replay.