Just leave it to the Swedes to do a thing correctly. That “thing” is nu-metalcore, which is mostly filled with depressing diary lyrics, djent-y chugging, and haphazard songwriting. Helsingbord, Sweden (yeah, I had to look it up, too)-based emotional hardcore band does the nu-metalcore style very well on their introductory Artery debut, in large part because they really aren’t a nu-metal band at all. Heartaches sound like a mix of the heavy sections of Sworn In’s earlier tunes (read: the good parts) and fellow Helsingbord residents Humanity’s Last Breath’s delicious low-end rumble. Heartaches will certainly appeal to the more emotional aspects of the nu-metalcore scene, no surprise given their name. The lyrics convincingly tell of a very dark soul, hence naming the album the Swedish word for black. Also, there are some definite melodic hardcore elements to the band’s sound, especially in “The Process”. More on that later.
What’s most impressive across this short six song EP (one of which is a pointless intro) is how diverse the band’s sound is and how melodic Heartaches are given the lack of actual singing. A lot of the credit goes to the band’s songwriting abilities, making a song like “Ruthless”, with its ability to piece together seemingly random sections. It’s a deliciously heavy tune, and the underlying melody helps keep everything together. “I Will Never Exist” is a track saved when the breakdown hits halfway through, and Heartaches kick it into another glorious gear. The nu-metal spoken word sections are not ideal (and thankfully the exception, not the norm). “Deathlist” again subverts expectations. It feels like it’s going to delve into a Sworn In track until a groove hits that would make Vildhjarta jealous, and the melodic hardcore pulse propels the track further.
Ultimately, Heartaches serves as a near-model example of how to merge Swedish tech metal with hardcore and nu-metal influences. They are often as heavy as The Acacia Strain and Humanity’s Last Breath, yet Heartaches’ ability to keep their hardcore roots afloat allows the music to be groovetastic and fun. The lyrics and overall mood of the EP offer just about the opposite of fun, but it’s clear Heartaches believe in conveying sonic madness, and that passion is clearly evident. An unexpected gem.