Let me get one thing clear before we start this review; you want Employed to Serve in your life. Employed to Serve are a two piece metallic, technical hardcore band from London who feature Sammy Urwin on guitar/backing vocals and Justine Siân Jones on lead vocals. Their biography lists their drummer as “TBA” so we’re assuming the band used a drum machine for this EP (but we can’t really tell). Regardless, they won’t be drummerless for very long after hearing how accomplished Long Time Dead is.
There is an awful lot going on here. The song stucture is not your traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus shtick; this is progressive, angry metal. Jones’ vocals are ferocious throughout and sound like a woman who has nothing else other than this band. These songs sound urgent and vital and are doing their absolute best to hold your attention. They achieve this by never sitting still for too long and the guitar work is always fresh and interesting to listen to.
Unlike the mathy leanings of bands like Crocus and Kerouac, Employed to Serve’s songs are generally quite mid-paced affairs. Yes, they are heavy and screamy but they don’t belt along at a ridiculous pace and give you a chance to take in what the band are doing.
The big draw comes half-way through the EP when Urwin brings his vocals to the mix. After 3 tracks of flat-out, nasty metal, The World Keeps Turning and I Keep Dying unleashes a huge, memorable sung section from Urwin. It takes you completely by surprise and gives the song greater atmosphere. It’s a stark, haunting melody and another string on Employed to Serve’s musical bow.
This is still early days for Employed to Serve. The band have released a two track demo and one other song so Long Time Dead has no right to sound so good so early in this band’s career. The production on this EP makes the band sound huge. The best example of this comes in the final song Fragments which progresses into a massive sung section that is just epic in scale. The mix is also brilliantly done and every element of Employed to Serve’s sound is clear as day while also maintaining a dirty, crusty guitar tone.
It is incredibly difficult to find things to criticise when it comes to Employed to Serve’s Long Time Dead. Their lack of bassist means they lack a driving rhythm that could make them sound even bigger but this EP is proving that it isn’t really necessary. Long Time Dead is 12 minutes of the most exciting metal you’ll hear and we cannot wait to hear what Employed to Serve have in store for the future.