Employed To Serve

support Eyes
author AP date 01/12/19 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

It is Sunday, and the buzz surrounding the main act on BETA’s poster tonight is yet to reach a boiling point in Denmark. As you can imagine then, the turnout is so low one is afraid to speak too loudly for fear of letting the rest of the 25 or so people here in on one’s conversation…. but on the other hand, the first concert that a band like Code Orange played in this country also took place here and also failed to generate much interest, and the following year they appeared in front of hundreds at VEGA. There is hope ahead for a unit of Employed to Serve’s esteem thus, especially as they have never struck me as the sort of band who do anything half-assed.

All photos courtesy of Philip B. Hansen


Eyes

Eyes first blipped on my radar when the Copenhagen quartet was picked up by the Danish metal blog Blastbeast.dk for this year’s edition of the annual New S**t Showcase in early January. And while the standard between the six artists who played at that event was quite uneven, Eyes immediately stuck out thanks to the ferocity of both their music and showmanship. The band’s vitriolic style of hardcore punk is the perfect fit for warming up the crowd for tonight’s headliner, and although the meagre crowd is not in a mood to expend much energy, the four musicians nonetheless proceed with a performance that is just as, if not more bulldozing than what I remember from earlier this year. The opening track, which seems to be brand new, kicks off with an atonal and dissonant, yet bizarrely enticing ‘melody’ by guitarist Rasmus Furbo, and once his cohorts fall in with a dense groove, it sends frontman Victor Kaas jumping and stomping around like a caveman, his face contorted into a deranged expression as he delivers his growls and screams to us. Indeed, Kaas has a special manner of bowing his head and sending glares into the audience that verge on murderous, and he catches everyone off guard when, after the first few seconds of “Silhouettes” (from the band’s self-titled EP of 2018), he charges onto the floor without any warning and then spends much of track moshing on his own amongst the scattered attendees. And just as the penultimate track in this 20-minute set, “Constant”, gets underway, he looks as though he might strangle himself with his microphone chord, as if to further emphasise that when he is on stage, he likes to assume the character of a psychopath. Kaas draws so much attention to himself that it is easy to forget there are four other musicians on stage as well, but if one diverts one’s gaze to any of them, one immediately notices that it is not just the vocalist, but the entire band that is engaged in showmanship that is perhaps best described as pure, unadulterated madness. Had there been more people here, then almost certainly the closing track “Them” would have produced one last moshpit — but alas, the intensity of Eyes’ performance seems to evaporate in the emptiness here.

7


Employed To Serve

“Move the FUCK up! Move the FUCK up!”, roars guitarist Sammy Urwin as the emerges from a crack in the curtains behind the stage. It is a sign of things to come; as he lays down the first of many jarring mathcore riffs to set loose “Eternal Forward Motion” (the title track to this Woking-based outfit’s latest album), the first thing that crosses my mind is how profoundly angry this band looks and sounds. Employed to Serve are sometimes referred to as a post-hardcore act, but taking in the likes of “Dull Ache Behind My Eyes”, an entirely different picture paints itself to me. This is not an easy unit to pigeonhole, with this song alone borrowing from chaotic hardcore, djent and deathcore to produce a bludgeoning unlike any other. It is heavy and dissonant, but not without technical scales and bursts of melody to inject some sense into the devastation as well — and in spite of the poor turnout, all five musicians are fired up from the get-go and looking like something, or someone is going to die tonight. Unlike Eyes, however, this band restrict their antics to the stage, and they express a real indifference to whether the crowd is with them or not. Indeed, there is fire in the quintet’s eyes and their behaviour is completely unhinged, with the aforementioned Urwin for instance accentuating the groovy opening segment of “Harsh Truth” by violently punching himself in the temple in what seems like a bid to work himself into a fury in time for the devastating breakdown in that song.

I cannot claim to be an expert on hiphop, but only in that genre have I ever experienced ”Fuck!” exclaimed as often as during this 11-track set. And when you watch the indignation with which vocalist Justine Jones spits our her verse as she paces back and forth in front of us like a caged animal, such expressions of antipathy do not feel exaggerated or forced at all. The band is genuinely pissed off and they use the live setting as an outlet for all of that aggression, and for those of us with an affinity for untethered brutality, this is excellent news. The group’s attitude renders the likes of “Good for Nothing” so barbaric it verges on sardonicism, and it also reflects in the audience, where a handful of people are jumping and pumping their fists to the groove of “Force Fed”. There are times when the degree of antagonism feels like it could become a bit too much, but to mitigate this, “Half Life” (off the group’s 2017 album “The Warmth of a Dying Sun”) just before offers some respite with a lengthy, post-metallic outro. But the pity is brief, as both the aforementioned “Force Fed” and the subsequent “I Spend My Days” restore the order of the breakdown and ensure the show concludes just as brutally as it began, with Urwin even throwing himself into the crowd for good measure. Somewhat to my surprise though, Employed to Serve decide to return for an encore in which they visit “Beg for Rain” off their début full-length, 2015’s “Greyer Than You Remember” — as if to ensure that the 25 patrons in attendance will now spread the word and inspire a lot more people to check this band out when they inevitably return in the near future.

8

  • 01. Eternal Forward Motion
  • 02. Beneath It All
  • 03. Dull Ache Behind My Eyes
  • 04. Harsh Truth
  • 05. Owed Zero
  • 06. Void Ambition
  • 07. Good for Nothing
  • 08. Half Life
  • 09. Force Fed
  • 10. I Spend My Days

— Encore —

  • 11. Beg for Rain

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