Artist: Whom I Serve
Release date: 9/10/2021
Reviewed by: John Wesley
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years / This life will be faded memories / Cause the former things have lost its sheen in my memory”
This line encompases the heart and purpose that fuels the drive of the brand new, debut album titled Eternity by hard rock duo Whom I Serve. Consisting of Jared Esposito (vocals, guitars, bass) and Aaron Ashcroft (drums), Whom I Serve delivers a fresh, 12-track presentation that beckons the listener to focus on the reality of Heaven and the Hope believers in Christ around the world are united with. Eternity is completely self-produced by the band and is overall a sonically pleasing effort.
Tracks 1 and 12 are your intro and outro tracks that introduce and wrap up the themes presented throughout the album which dramatically recite selections from the book of Revelation. Track 2, “Forever”, which was the first single released back in June, still stands as one of the stronger tracks blazing out of the gate with the demanding “Look into eternity!” as one of many down-tuned, aggressive, punishing guitar riffs and groovy, well-fitting drum-work captures your attention. Following Jared’s calming yet authoritative baritone vocals in the first verse, the listener pretty much has a complete expectation of what the rest of the album will portray. A major compositional element throughout this album are the choruses. Most of the tracks don’t waste any time with the verses as they tend to be short. The chorus of “Forever” is pleasantly anthem-like with the heart cry “Wipe all the tears from our eyes / Relieve us from our heavy sorrows / And lead us to the river of life forever in Your light.” Like many other instances on this album, the listener begins to long for something more than what this life has to offer. We were made with eternity in mind, specifically, with our Creator.
Track 3, “Atoned”, keeps the energy going with a faster-paced, pummeling intro into what will be the expected formula you’ll hear with most tracks on the album. Another big chorus comes our way with some guest vocals by Chris Johnson of Hard Look. This guest appearance makes this track significantly more aggressive than the previous track. Wasting no time, track 4, “Washed in Blood”, shows up and the album starts to make progressive dives into some unexpected chord changes and tonal centers. Something about the production of “Washed in Blood” seems a little off-putting as the guitars seem to lose some bite. Nevertheless, another great chorus.
Track 5, “Infinite”, was the second single off this album released in late July. We get some more of Jared’s “hardcore-style” harsh vocals in the verses contrasting his signature clean vocals for the chorus. I guess I probably should mention at this point that Jared’s clean vocals sound like a perfect mix of Jon Micah Sumrall of Kutless and Maynard Keenan of Tool. The way Jared weaves some of his melodies reminds me of how Tool melodies are constructed, especially in the post-bridge. Either way, “Infinite” is a great track, definitely a stand-out. I find it to be one of the more consistent tracks with great energy, my second-favorite chorus, a dramatic bridge and a cool rock breakdown. Love the ending riff as well.
I have a love-hate relationship with track 6. “Evermore” has an awesome intro with a simple yet laser-focused guitar lead that does the job well, a very nice verse and yet another awesome chorus. The transition between chorus and verse 2 really caught me off guard however. I was honestly pretty bummed out because I love every other part of this song. I simply do not think those chords work in the post-chorus transition. On the thematic side of things, “Evermore” sets a beautiful picture of how we long to be in complete worship in the presence of God. We only get glimpses of it on this earth but once we experience what it’s like to be totally captivated by His glory in its fullness, we can only imagine. For the most part, “Evermore” sonically depicts this idea gloriously.
Now we have reached the back-half of the album. We have special guest Ben Dixon show up to grace us with his commanding harsh vocals on track 7, “Without Sin”. Definitely a stand-out track sporting a catchy chorus and breakdown. The lyrics depict a longing for being in a place where we no longer wrestle with our sin nature with “Free from all infirmity / Every thorn in the flesh / That reality has no legal stance.” Some may say they can’t wait to see the streets of gold or the pearly gates or whatever, but the real relief of Heaven is when we will be free from the burden of sin completely. Very solid track.
Track 8, “Faded Memories”, keeps the energy going. This is one of my favorite tracks mainly due to the chorus. The simplistic pounding chord progression coupled with a catchy, soaring melody makes for a perfectly pleasing anthem. Lyrically this is the peak of the conceptual development as the next two tracks shift focus to what we are to do in the meantime on Earth as we wait for Heaven. With that said, track 9, “Sealed”, is a no-go for me. Not because it’s a bad song but because I don’t see how it sonically fits on the album. Every other track hangs out in the G# minor and D# minor modalities with some expected borrowed key centers here and there. “Sealed” is the only track in C minor which compromises the established mood the past 8 tracks set in motion. If this song stayed in the other modalities, I would esteem this track much higher.
Now we are coming to a landing with tracks 10 and 11. “Old Leaven” sports a 6/8 groove to start, which provides a nice contrast from the other tracks. Again, great chorus. We get some nice “bass-n-drum” sections in the verses that I, as a bass player, always enjoy when they happen.
I love the line “Give us a heart to wanna walk upright.” Without Christ, we naturally don’t want to pursue righteousness. This album points back to Christ as being our reason and hope constantly and sometimes even Christians need to be reminded of that.
“Fortress of Hope” is the closer track (aside from the outro) and features Jonathan Franco of Mothaltar so naturally you can expect some more aggressive hard vocals. I will also point out “Fortress of Hope” seems to be the one and only track where the lead guitar acts as a real driving force for the song whereas in past songs the lead guitar acted more as a decoration element. Nice driving lead bass line in the bridge. I will say I was slightly disappointed with the chorus on this track. It didn’t grab me as much as I wanted it to, especially being the last “banger” until the album wraps up with the haunting “INHERIT.”
Overall this is a very solid debut. What I appreciate the most about Whom I Serve are how easily digestible the songs are. The riffs are very simple and catchy. The drums are very complimentary. They may not have a whole lot of sparkle but it’s more important to do what is needed than to impose technical prowess just because you can. I appreciate how this is a full 12 track album. We live in an “EP world” so to see a debut that’s a full-length is refreshing.
Lyrically this album is undeniably for Christians. It serves as a great word of encouragement to keep our eyes on what matters most; where will we be on the other side of eternity? Whom I Serve has given us quite a solid debut album and I’ll be on the lookout to see how they grow in their craft.
Overall rating: 7/10
Top 3: Forever, Infinite, Faded Memories
For fans of Red, Love and Death and Breaking Benjamin.