U.K. post-hardcore crew Employed to Serve are quickly making a name for themselves care of knotty and ferocious rippers like the group's latest single "Force Fed" and their no-holds-barred onstage performances, as captured in the song's hyper-kinetic live video. Not surprisingly, guitarist Sammy Urwin (pictured above, far right) is a true student of the heavy-music arts, taking to heart lessons from such members of the pantheon as Pantera and Rage Against the Machine, as well as from more underground greats like Nile. Ahead of Employed to Serve's upcoming third LP, Eternal Forward Motion, due May 10th via Spinefarm, we asked him to share with us five of the albums that shaped him into the man and musician he is today — below is what he offered up.
Slipknot was the first band I became infatuated with. I would see older kids wearing their merch and be like, "What the hell is that?!" The curiosity continued and I just had to listen to them, and then I became hooked thereafter. They were the band to represent all the weird alternative kids when I was younger and being a fan of theirs genuinely felt like you were part of something bigger than yourself.
As I continued to explore metal music I inevitably discovered Pantera. For me, the five records they put out — not including the glam days — are just metal perfection, but I think Far Beyond Driven is the best of the bunch. It's the album where I think it fully came together for them, and their attitude and songwriting was at its peak. This album is a great example of how you can write catchy verse/chorus songs that are still super heavy. For me personally, I hail this album the best metal record ever made.
Not long after I started learning how to play the guitar my teacher asked me if I had heard of this band called Rage Against the Machine. I replied, "No." He then quickly busted out a CD and played me "Know Your Enemy" and needless to say it blew my mind. "He's making that sound with a guitar?!" I was fascinated with the noises Tom Morello could make on the guitar but also just in love with the riffs in general. The next year or so consisted of me learning every Rage Against the Machine song written.
There were a few albums I could have picked for my gateway into death metal, but this seemed like the right one. I recall the video for "Sacrifice Unto Sebek" coming on the TV and feeling like I had found the next level up in metal. Annihilation of the Wicked had just been released so I hurried to go by it and I was — and still to this day — in awe of the musicianship on that record. The songs are incredibly technical at times, yet they remain catchy. It's not just a great death-metal record but just a great metal record in general.
The years that followed after discovering death metal found me falling into a strict routine of listening to death metal almost exclusively. I also began to put into place strict limitations on how I thought it should sound. Akercocke was the main band who smashed down these boundaries and opened me up to a more progressive way of listening to metal. Choronzon, although being potentially their most death metal–laden record, has so much going on. It has all the aggression of a death/black-metal record, but also seamlessly can incorporate haunting melodies with clean singing passages.