Employed To Serve - The Warmth of a Dying Sun - (8.5/10)
Published on May 26, 2017
Employed To Serve caused quite a stir with their 2015 debut record, Greyer Than You Remember. That album’s confident blend of math and grindcore is easily one of the most confident and promising debuts in recent memory, and it seemed certain that big things were on the horizon for the UK noise crew. Cut forward to 2017 and the Brits have truly outdone themselves. Not only have they somehow managed to garner a significant amount of mainstream attention, despite the uncompromisingly abrasive nature of their sound, but their follow-up record The Warmth of a Dying Sun is now also being widely heralded as a modern classic.
This second effort sees Employed to serve taking a decidedly different approach to their brusque palette., though one which is no less vicious or abrasive. Whereas Greyer Than You Remember sounded like an untamed beast, wildly lashing out in every direction, The Warmth of a Dying Sun is as if that same force of nature were forced into a steel cage, aimed directly at its captor then unifyingly unleashed in their single direction. For all its continued, unbridled fury, the word that perhaps best describes this record is “focused.” While descriptors such as “controlled” and “calculated” might forego some degree of rabidity in their precision, focused implies a concentration of such raw aggression, rather than its domestication. The Warmth of a Dying Sun then remains wild at heart, while still being very deliberately deployed.
On the whole, The Warmth of a Dying Sun is a much slower, even sludgier, record than its predecessor. Yet this reduced pace only adds more heft to Employed to Serve’s already considerably destructive load out. There’s plenty of moments where the band slow right down—not least the trudging conclusion of the otherwise-storming opener “Void Ambition”—which ultimately prove to be the record’s most aggressive and impactful. Around the halfway mark however, the album takes a turn toward more expansive and melodic territory, beginning with the crooning interlude of “Lethargy.” From there we’re taken through the almost-shoegazey lead of the otherwise unrelenting “I Spend My Days,” the spacious narrative interludes of the title-track and the grandiose, almost post-rocky climax of “Half Life,” before the album finally culminates in the subdued and reflective tones of “Apple Tree.”
This isn’t to say that they’ve left behind the grinding-mathcore approach entirely—far from it. Although the added grunt readily brings to mind the likes of your Trap Thems, your Nails(es) and your Code Organges ; or perhaps more-directly the ominous crunch of Will Haven, most of the tracks on this album can be described with some specific degree of reference to a Converge tune. Their general influence pervades the record as a whole (think specifically No Heroes/Axe To Fall), and if you were none the wiser and someone gave you The Warmth of a Dying Sun and told you it was a new Converge album, you’d have few reasons to act suspicious. Yet, while you might not be surprised, you’d also hardly be disappointed; and, given that band’s stature, both in the eyes the broader community, and especially your reviewer, saying “Oh, they just sound like Converge” is hardly a damning comparison, especially when it’s done to this caliber.
Despite what every other review would have you believe, and despite its own considerable ambition, there is nothing particularly revolutionary about this record. Rather, The Warmth of a Dying Sun represents a number of already-established styles and conventions done to damn near-perfection. While it might not be a true game-changer, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the best example of this particular style to emerge since, well, Greyer Than you Remember really. Anyone seeking a more direct take on the Converge template in the wake of All We Love We Leave Behind or a more fully realized alternative to the recent Code Orange effort should not hesitate to apply.