Stockholm outfit Set Before Us have honed a diverse sound that fuses full-on hardcore metal with delicious melody. Their sound may not have pleased some of the more “hardcore core” lovers out there – whose main beef seemed to be the band’s clothes – but their debut album smashed 100,000 streams on Spotify within two weeks, they’ve caught the attention of US-based Eclipse Records (Mushroomhead, Bobaflex, A Breach Of Silence) and toured across Europe.
The quintet of Erik Tropp (vocals), Niklas Edström (guitar and vocals), Hampus Andersson (bass), Jesper Nilsson (guitar) and Emanuel Borgefors (drums) first met in high school, started jamming in a basement and thought ‘this doesn’t sound too bad.” They started off playing cover songs then began writing their own music a couple of months later.
As Erik explains: “Six years ago, we’d never picture ourselves having just released our debut album and having toured large parts of Europe. Personally, I’ve always loved music, but I never saw myself as a performer or artist. Playing covers in my friend’s basement made me realise what music is about. The joy, the emotions, the freedom and the ability to express yourself.”
The band released debut full-length album Vitae at the end of last month, on which Erik tells us: “The initial response to Vitae has been great. Having people from all parts of the world reaching out and complementing our music is surreal. If you haven’t listened yet, we hope you find an album that is diverse, dynamic and inspiring!
“We’d describe it as a surprise. We don’t want to be tied down to one genre, or one type of sound. Vitae is eleven tracks with different sounds, emotions and stories.”
Diversity is very much the word that embodies Vitae, and the Set Before Us sound generally. Moments of unadulterated heaviness – demonstrated through huge crushing riffs and devastating screamed vocals – are contrasted by their trademark high-pitched guitars and even the occasional melodic, singalong anthem. It certainly keeps you on your toes.
As Erik explains: “We’ve always aspired to merge melody with harshness. With Vitae we had the maturity and confidence to fully create the music we want people to associate Set Before Us with. A lot of credit must fall on Jesper, our lead guitarist, in taking all our ideas and forming them into something physical.”
Opening up, Untainted slowly eases you in with a slow looping riff under spoken words, then a heavier version of the riff over chugging riffs and increasingly intense drums under screamed vocals. It all kicks in together under high-pitched guitars that lead into driving low-tuned riffs supporting huge screamed vocals. A chorus is followed by Erik’s guttural screams answered with slightly less intense screams, then a big looping high-pitched guitar jumps in over pounding low-tuned guitars. It’s an impressive, exhaustingly brutal opening.
That’s followed by Avalanche, which opens up with a big high-pitched looping guitar over chugging low-tuned riffs then an awesome riff feeds into a wild opening verse. A huge drum roll feeds into a more melodic chorus that features clean vocals “I tried to be own my man, But the weight of the world pulls me down, I tried to live my own life, But the weight of the world pulls me down” over the seemingly never-ending awesome high-pitched guitar loops and intense metal riffs. Check it out in the video below:
The pace drops down a little in the more laid-back opening to Identity, then a big hit of guitar chords feed into a big singalong chorus. Huge screamed vocals come in as the song builds in intensity and drops into an awesome guitar solo. Then they mix things up completely in the singalong acoustic track Harbor, which offers a generally more relaxing breather but gradually builds up to a delicious guitar solo that feeds into a heavier final rendition of the chorus.
The intensity returns in the brutal The Eternal Fight then Everest, which opens up with an awesome fast guitar riff that gives way to a barrage of screamed vocals.
The album’s lead single Ignite, which we included in a new music round-up a couple of weeks ago, is absolutely brilliant. It opens up with Niklas’ intense screams “The stars in the night, That never will die, The light in the sky, That always will shine” over a pounding drumbeat that feeds into even heavier screamed vocals over massive pounding drums. An unbelievably good high-pitched guitar loop blasts in over driving, low-tuned guitars and relentless screams. Darting low-tuned riffs take over, then fast-paced looping guitars kick in over more screams. Treat your ears by hitting the video below, and turning it up loud:
More of the same follows, including the superb penultimate track Oblivion. A riff opens up, a big scream, then a verse of huge screams that feeds into clean vocals over driving drums. The track seamlessly jumps between intense screams and singalong vocals, going out with huge cries of “Save me” and big backing vocals over pounding drums.
While final track Charon again shows the diversity of the band, opening up with a piano intro under Niklas’ clean vocals that gradually build in intensity and are soon joined by beefy, chugging guitar chords. That builds up to a massive singalong chorus that opens up “My body will soon return to earth,” then Erik’s huge gruff screams take over in the second verse, ending on the line “Piece by piece, Stone by stone, What is beyond, what is below” that feeds into another big chorus. A big guitar solo follows and drops down the intro piano melody, then flows into a final chorus – and ends on the spoken words that open the album “I am the alpha and the omega, The first and the last, The beginning and the end.”
Vitae is a real assault on the senses, largely packed with huge metal tracks that see Set Before Us truly nail the concept of melodic hardcore. On what inspires their music, Erik tells us: “A bit of a cliché perhaps, but life is the major influence and inspiration to our lyrics. We write about personal experiences, reflections and thoughts.”
And, given Sweden has a reputation for producing great metal bands, he adds: “The metal music scene in Sweden is definitely on an upswing as of late. We have a lot of talented and hardworking bands emerging, and a couple of promoters working hard to improve the metal scene.”
Set Before Us will be touring mainland Europe through the rest of the year, and hope to be coming to see us in the UK soon. Fingers crossed. Erik adds: “We’re very honoured to have the privilege of playing music, seeing new places and faces, and doing what we love the most. We’d just like to end by saying thank you to everyone who has been supporting us for the past six years!”