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Hearts & Hands EP

Artery (2012)
Rating: 5/10

Hearts & Hands is the side project of Chelsea Grin vocalist Alex Koehler. Self-described as “metal pop”, the Salt Lake City band is rounded out by Garret Garfield, of hardcore band Becoming Everest, and Alex Lyman.

This self-titled offering is an EP full of songs that have dominating melodies but aren’t afraid to get down and dirty if they feel like it either. Surprisingly, “metal pop” makes a good bit of sense by the end of this EP.

‘Revenge’ starts things off in a heavy way, with screaming vocals, metalcore riffage, and a whole lot of chaos. Your first thought is certainly that Koehler has only stepped a bit to the left as opposed to offering something different but then the chorus hits and you start to perk up a bit. Instead of the soaring metalcore chorus you get an anthemic smooth sail similar to any number of emo rock bands that would dominate the side stages at any years’ Warped tour.

‘We’re Not Alone’ gets even heavier, with a tunneling bounce and wild screaming vocals, occasionally settling into a driving clean vocal before reverting back to its more natural form. ‘Memories’ is set up almost exactly the same, so much so that you may not even realise you were listening to two different songs.

‘Gravity Proof’ and ‘Choices’ have a bit of a bite but lean much more towards the aforementioned emo rock, bringing to mind bands like later years Eighteen Visions at certain points and Say Anything or Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at others. Realistically, this is very similar to what Underoath have done the last few years, only it takes the pop / melodic aspect even farther while leaving some of the creativity behind.

Overall this is a solid EP, probably better than solid if you are in love with any of the bands mentioned in this review. I enjoyed giving this a few spins, but it’s not something that screams at me to listen again. I will give Koehler props though, this is certainly not Chelsea Grin II.

Mark Fisher

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