Album: Svart – EP
For many US readers, Svart may be an unfamiliar word—which is fair given its Swedish roots. Roughly translating to black, it might be easy to roll your eyes and mutter “oh, a metalcore band naming their EP black? Original.” Before writing the band off completely. However, Svart doesn’t equivocate to “black” in the “black my eyes” or “my soul is black,” contrived and standard emo fare manner–it’s black in the same way the black market is black: contraband and cunning—which is perhaps the best way to describe Swedish nu-metalcore outfit Heartaches and their Artery Records debut, aptly titled Svart. Dark, brooding (and yes, emotional), Heartaches borrow from a variety of metallic and hardcore influences to create a punchy, prominent release that is sure to make heads bang and ears ring from Helsingborg to Hollywood.
Imagine a musical mash-up of Sworn In, Barrier, Slipknot and maybe a touch of Like Moths to Flames—and you start to get a picture of what Svart is all about. Built on a foundation of Adrian Bellan’s bouncy foundation, Heartaches chug, groove and riff their way right into the depths of the listener’s head. Bellan’s drumming is neither over the top with technicality nor slow and monotonous. Striding a fine line between bold, fill-laced catchiness and providing a solid, strong beat, Bellan is the steadily beating heart of Heartaches. “Backyard Tree” sees him at his grooviest, with bizarre patterns shifting into sudden breakdowns and speedy fills without warning—while “I Will Never Exist” and “Deathlist” both are more straightforward examples of his percussive expertise. Where Bellan roams with his ravaging kick drum, bassist Theodil Tokatlidis is always with him. Tokatlidis covers every breakdown and groove in grit and grime so real the listener can practically feel it coating the insides of their ears. The climax to “Ruthless” is an excellent example—where Bellan’s kick and snare bludgeon the listener to Hell and back, Tokatlidis is right there with him, plunking and grooving away with a tone so heavy it may as well be a steamroller—even then, the listener is far from safe. Where Bellan and Tokatlidis are a dynamic duo when it comes to providing a powerful low end, guitarists Jimmy Fransén and Tom Mähler are nothing to joke about either. Fransén and Mähler are more than adept at writing catchy grooves and sharp riffs (see “I Will Never Exist”) just as they are proficient at writing punishing breakdowns that wouldn’t sound out of place on The Death Card or Dark Days. “Backyard Tree” and “Ruthless” are perhaps the best all-around songs when it comes to evidence of the duo’s greatness—as each song oscillates from groovy catchiness to devastating aggression fluidly and furiously.
Where Heartaches live up to Svart’s name when it comes to cunning, cutting-edge aggression instrumentally, the band’s vocal dynamic plays more towards the definition of Svart in the context of their emotionally-driven name. Frontman Casper Frisk channels the likes of Tyer Dennen and Colin Sharkey to provide a bitter display of self-loathing and depression on every track Svart has to offer. From the first lines of “Backyard Tree” through the crushing climax to “Deathlist,” Frisk’s vocal effort is eviscerating and energetic both. While “Ruthless” and “Backyard Tree” both see him including very little in the way of a range, “The Process” sees him adding spoken word elements into his dynamic—a welcome change—just as Traitors’ Tyler Shelton’s appearance in “Deathlist” provides some low, grisly growls that listeners have likely been craving. All things considered, Frisk’s effort will satiate the army of “sadbois” out there looking for another shrill, depressive voice (I’m not judging—I love it too), but it will do so at the risk of ignoring vocal diversity.
Heartaches—being a young band—put on an outstanding breakout effort when it comes to their sound, style and dynamic on Svart. Where the lacking vocal diversity is off putting, Frisk’s emotive and aggressive voice does a sound job of compensating for it. Ultimately, those who don’t care for Heartaches are the same people who don’t care for the bands that so clearly influence them. Svart continues where bands like Sworn In and Barrier left off without sounding like an outright carbon-copy. Infusing a distinctly nu-metallic sound with contemporary metalcore and some shrill, sadistic self-loathing, Heartaches are a band bound to break open your ribcage and paint your heart Svart.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Sworn In, Lordis, Kingmaker
By: Connor Welsh