Does no-one care about End Of Year Lists anymore? [shakes fist angrily]
Releasing an album like Retrocausal (Web Of Mimicry) in mid-December almost seems designed to antagonise self-righteous reviewers who freak out about making their lists as accurate as they can – but speaking as one, it’s easy to forgive Cleric when their slap comes in the form of an album this good.
Following a few excessively raw and highly abrasive EPs, the UK’s Employed To Serve turned a few heads in 2015 with the release of their hungry—nay, starving and salivating—debut full-length Greyer Than You Remember. Now, with The Warmth Of A Dying Sun (both Holy Roar), they are poised to turn quite a few more. Continue reading →
HexMachine by False Flags is a self-released debut mini-album, although when you give it a listen it certainly doesn’t feel particularly mini, this packs some considerable force. False Flags rise out of the ashes of the once spectacular Leeds DIY scene consisting of former members of Red Stars Parade, Whores Whores Whores & Year Of The Man: so it certainly doesn’t feel like a debut either.
Opener ‘Earl Black’ starts slowly, a gentle intro stopped abruptly by a sucker punch of savage hardcore, crushing riffs and disjointed time signatures. Slamming guitars and shouty vocals scream their intent and it feels fresh and furious. Reminding me somewhat of the late great Beecher with a hint of Dillinger Escape Plan the track builds in its heaviness throughout.
Followed by ‘Last Screen Goddess’ which is slower but with a refined intensity rather than diminished. This pulses along rhythmically, swaying and mesmerising and constantly building. There’s enjoyment to be had being swept along with the song.
‘Fate (Has A Driver)’ starts off with pounding drums, but with a more understated yet infectious groove infused into snarling, but more straightforward rhythms: which get the head nodding along with ease. There’s a notable intensification in their ebb and flow particularly in the solid groove of the bass work as the song progresses.
When we get to track ‘Pet Wolf’ False Flags start to show off their hardcore chops in full fury, the shortest at 2:15 this screaming statement is a short sharp shock to the system, build a substantial weight to the track before pausing momentarily before launching into the stormy intensity of ‘Namedropper’, which subsides then screams and smashes against the ears with a blackened throb and erratic pulse, giving you just enough pause for breath before suffocating you again with their punch to the gut sound.
Final Track ‘Phone My Wallet’ steps things up yet another gear and undulates between the now familiar pulsing throb and out and out blasting of discordant riffs, this album finishes with the sound of the band giving everything they have and then some, until they have nothing more in the tank and rolling to a cathartic stop.
This may be a debut album, but there’s an all encompassing confidence about this which harks back to their history within the Leeds DIY scene. Definitely a band to watch out for in 2016.
As the build-up continues ahead of the release of False Flags‘ debut mini-album Hexmachine, Ghost Cult are pleased to continue our association with the technical-hardcore miscreants from northern England by bringing you the stream of a new track, ‘Pet Wolf’ from the soon to be released mini-album.
Ghost Cult recently caught up with vocalist Chris Jenkinson (in a feature you can read here), who had this to say about the subject matter of their new outpouring:
The lyrics are kind of weird, really. Each song has a theme but they’re not really about anything in particular. Most of the time we come up with the title first, then I try to write around that. Charlie came in one day and said “Can we call a song ‘Pet Wolf’?” So that ended up being about one of my Chihuahuas being a little shit!
I’m a big fan of lyricists like Cedric Bixler (The Mars Volta) and John Congleton (The Paperchase) so I try to do that “interpret it how you like” kind of thing.
False Flags – ‘Pet Wolf’
Hexmachine, which the band will be releasing themselves,spurts abrasive, disjointed rock and takes inspiration from the likes of Unsane, Breather Resist, Botch and Coalesce. It will be released on 20th November.
The album launch show takes place at Bad Apples in Leeds, also on 20th November.
Call it unpredictable, call it spazzy, call it powerful, and in the case of Employed To Serve, call it where it’s at. Polyrhythmic, aggressive, acerbic and ascending, hailing from Woking, England, a very “nice” and Conservative (both capital and lower case C) part of the country, Employed To Serve are lighting a fire and blazing a path on their debut album Greyer Than You Remember (Holy Roar) and introduced themselves to Ghost Cult.
While progressive / technical hardcore is this years’ Sludge Metal in terms of being bang on trend, there is enough about Employed To Serve to suggest that the critical acclaim isn’t due to them being in the right time at the right place, with Employed To Serve in it for the long haul. “Not being concerned about being a leader or keeping up with the trend is a good way of keeping the longevity of a band” is the bands collective response. “We never really set out to be a technical hardcore/post hardcore/whatevercore band it just happened from growing up loving bands like Meshuggah, Botch, Norma Jean etc.”
“Employed To Serve is the embodiment of that kid who had so many aspirations growing up, but they got lost somewhere along the way to being an adult and they eventually succumb to the norm of working a job where you’re under appreciated and hate every minute”, state the quintet, showing the negatives of a “Nice” middle-England existence. The band name, song/album titles, all indicate a very cynical view of life. “We only write about topics that are close to home so there’s weight behind our lyrics and songs in general.”
“At the end of the day the reason why we play music is so people can listen to it. Hardcore/metal is supposed to be a sanctuary for all the people who didn’t quite fit in or wanted to listen to something more challenging. We would never want ETS to be perceived as an ‘elitist’ band whereby we turn our noses up at someone who couldn’t name the first Cannibal Corpse album (Eaten Back To Life 😉 ) or someone wearing a Black Veil Brides shirt at one of our shows.”
Whilst all the talk around ‘Technical’ Hardcore may well be surrounding Palm Reader at the moment, and deservedly so, don’t let that stop you exploring other releases of the same ilk. Delivering that violently erratic smash-mouth style a la The Dillinger Escape Plan, Employed To Serve’s breed of music will hit you square between the eyes right from the word go.
The opening few tracks pretty much set the tone for the rest of the album – the band doing their upmost to not go down a path whereby you can predict what comes next. They’ve shunned the idea of a ‘normal’ song structure and instead launch through complicated arrangements, and mind bending riffs. A lot of the time, this level of description ends up putting people off checking this kind of music out, and like many of the bands playing a similar style will attest to, it can take time to get in to it. If you take the time around an album like this you will feel rewarded and some of these tracks won’t just become fodder to skip through on shuffle. Alongside the Dillinger type vibes on this album, there is an all round sense of bleakness, something made instantly plain by the track names, ‘Watching Films To Forget I Exist’ and ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ serving as clear examples. The absolute star of the show across the album is vocalist Justine Jones who delivers a performance containing so much venom you get a genuine sense that had she not been involved it would have been a lesser album as a result.
Overall then, this is some seriously high quality Hardcore music, whether you want to throw them into the Technical Hardcore bracket or Post Hardcore, it doesn’t matter – Greyer Than You Remember (Holy Roar) genuinely an exciting album which will hopefully hoist Employed To Serve on to more of people’s radars.