LIVE: Employed To Serve / Devil Sold His Soul / Loathe @ The Garage, London

By Dave Stewart

Album release shows are always a little more special than the average gig. The energy in the room is different, both from the crowd and from the band. The crowd are in attendance to see a band they love perform a brand new set, celebrating their first steps onto a new path in their career. The band are celebrating too – celebrating reaching a milestone by playing new songs for the first time, and simultaneously feeding off the excitement and adrenaline circulating around the venue.

On this occasion that band was Employed To Serve, and they showed London exactly why this was an occasion worth acknowledging. Ambient metal legends Devil Sold His Soul and Liverpool bruisers Loathe were also brought along for the ride, and Employed To Serve used the evening to make something abundantly clear – the release of their new album ‘Eternal Forward Motion’ marks the beginning of their ascension. Their destination? The big leagues.

Loathe kicked off proceedings with the unbridled power they’ve become known for, taking the gaze of every set of eyes in the room and holding onto it tightly. From the pounding verses of ‘It’s Yours’ to THAT riff in ‘Servant and Master’, they had complete command over everyone in earshot. Every single song was met with appreciative head banging and the odd bit of mosh action, with every request for movement from front man Kadeem France being honoured by the pit. They treated the crowd to a brand new song too, and its heaviness can’t accurately be described with words. The opening notes shook ribcages throughout the venue, leaving attendees blankly staring at the stage in complete awe of the disgusting noises coming from it. If you aren’t already on the Loathe hype train, it’s about time you got yourself a ticket.

Next up was Devil Sold His Soul, who failed to vault over the high bar that Loathe set before them. The band played a solid set that would’ve made any fan of the band happy, performing tracks that spanned their entire career, but the line up of the evening didn’t work in their favour. Sandwiched between two bands renowned for their electric live performances, Devil Sold His Soul’s brand of ambient and spacey metal fell flat in a room full of pit-hungry metalheads. A solid and well performed set, but it lacked the fire of the two bands performing either side of them.

This show was always going to belong to Employed To Serve, and as soon as they crept onto the stage it was even more evident. The room erupted with cheer and applause, and the band all looked out with both excitement and pride. The smile on front woman Justine Jones’ face quickly turned into a poisonous grin as the opening chords of ‘Eternal Forward Motion’ kicked in, and the venue immediately became a war zone. It had begun.

The band had their crosshairs aimed firmly at the pit, firing banger after banger at them to whip them into a frenzy of flailing bodies. New songs like ‘Owed Zero’ and ‘Harsh Truth’ highlighted the sheer power that their new material is wielding, with older songs like ‘Good For Nothing’ and ‘Void Ambition’ just adding to the weight of the sonic punishment. One of the highlights of the set was ‘Force Fed’ inciting the loudest chants of the evening, proving itself to be one of the more anthemic tracks from the record. Another was their encore ‘Never Falls Far’ which provided a chaotic, sweaty, and satisfying end to a momentous evening in their career.

If there was anything to be taken away from this evening, it’s this – Employed To Serve are, without a doubt, one of the most exciting bands in the scene right now. They’ve been grafting hard and creating aural carnage that, when paired with energy levels like the ones they exerted tonight, creates an irresistibly powerful punch. They deserve everything that’s coming their way, and with an album like ‘Eternal Forward Motion’, its arrival is imminent. A top quality evening from some of the UK’s finest bands.