In Hearts Wake – Ark
Released: May 26th 2017
Jake Taylor // Unlean Vocals
Eaven Dall // Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Ben Nairne // Rhythm Guitar
Kyle Erich // Bass/Clean Vocals
Conor Ward // Drums
In Hearts Wake online
Byron Bay hardcore was (and still is) a thriving hot spot for bands to start out and following on from the success of Parkway Drive, In Hearts Wake have also helped to pave the way for others to come from the once non-populated with hipster tourist destination. Bands with a purpose do their best to not shove their beliefs down your throat and the ones that make a stand for a cause, usually prevail and have more to stand for than just the music they’re making for fans. The IHW boys recently launched a joint effort with Taronga Blue and created the We Are Waterborne: An In Hearts Wake Initiative which will lead to a series of waterways clean ups across the country to make our oceans debris free again… think Clean Up Australia Day but with a great soundtrack behind the campaign. That’s underway now and the boys are about to release their latest studio album Ark and tour on the back of it, cleaning as they go. How does the new music stack up to their previous work? Well lets find out…
Title track ‘Ark‘ opens with a breezy seaside atmosphere complete with rolling waves and seagulls a plenty which sounds almost like those chill out session sound effects your parents used to play.. or you, know, outside at the beach like reality lovers choose to experience. A welcoming slow drumming and piano take us through the last few moments of the song as the album launches straight up (and abruptly) into the unclean vocals of Jake Taylor with ‘Passage‘. It’s fast, rough, melodic metalcore at it’s finest even though Clean vocalist Kyle Erich sounds strangely like he’s singing with something stuck in his throat at times. The last quarter of the track begins with a guitar solo as the song about control comes to an end, complete with plenty of ocean references.
‘Nomad‘ continues the fast and heavy theme straight away with Jake grabbing your attention and taking you on a ride to a short but punchy group vox chant. Drummer Conor Ward gets the big thumbs up from me for this one as he powers ahead of the band keeping up a faster pace compared to their cruisy riffs. A breakdown emerges towards the end of the song following the heavy af screaming of the words “LIBERATE ME” by Jake Taylor. Whilst there have been some pretty decent breakdowns in new songs of recent times (more notably Northlane‘s ‘Zero-One‘ from Mesmer), this one doesn’t have the same effect as those previously released. Upping the ante for a faster, speedy intro on ‘Frequency‘ that fades back to a slower pace with Kyle’s clean vocals taking control of the direction of the track which somewhat borderlines on an almost atmospheric pop punk-core genre crossover. It’s music to my ears and goddamn it’s catchy and pumped up as fuck. ‘Warcry‘ follows and as you may already be aware, was the first taste of new stuff we heard from the band which is riffy, heavy and has the guy’s signature sound of clean/unclean vocal sharing, breakdown and synth samples.
Powering through the album we’ve got ‘Waterborne‘ next which has an intermittent flute? or bamboo wind blowing instrument easing us in? Either way, it’s very earthly and the distorted computer generated beat that comes with it feels a little out of place, but all is forgotten as the drums and unclean vocals rip the opening apart and invade your ears. Throughout this one, there’s times where I shut off everything around me and just focused on the music and I could have sworn I heard Northlane playing a couple times through. Yes both bands are close, on the same label and have released a joint album in the past, but when your bands start sounding the same, something needs to be done or altered in the recording process to make sure you stand out as a completely different entity. The song is very earthy, as in it’s almost as if the band got in touch with nature and added elements of what you’d hear in a forest, into the final song. Which is good. Borderline hippy, but then again, they are from Byron Bay… The atmospheric ambience carries on into the not so heavy ‘Arrow‘ which has no signs of screaming throughout as Kyle Erich takes centre stage and the spotlight is completely on him in this commercially targeted (in my opinion) break up song. While the band attempted to steer the ship into unknown territory with a clean vocal only song, I felt that Kyle couldn’t hold it on his own and the aspects which Jake usually adds as an unclean singing partner could have added that missing piece of the puzzle this song was lacking. Big ups for trying though, every bands needs to do something different from time to time. ‘Flow‘ brings back a slightly heavier tone to the album with an easy sounding guitar riff and tag team effort by both vocalists. In this song’s case the second half (and final few minutes) of the track are so close to perfection it’s not funny. The tempo, the drums, everything about it’s ending just works so well, if only the rest of the song had sounded like this too.
Moving on into ‘Overthrow‘ and here’s hoping the last few songs of the album pick up the pace and bring back a level of excitement I felt when I first got my hands on this album. We’re in luck because in some way, shape or form, it kinda/sorta sounds like Corey Taylor of Slipknot/Stone Sour has taken the mic and influenced his own style of singing onto the band. Its riff heavy, group vox-filled and has similar components of the band’s earlier material throughout. Definitely a highlight so far and one that’ll go fuckin’ off during live shows. The same can be said for ‘Elemental‘ however at times it sounds like they’ve taken influence from industrial rock and nu-metal bands from yesteryear and revived their unique sound but with a healthy dose of IHW from start to finish. It pulls you in and keeps you hooked, totally unexpected but greatly welcomed. ‘Totality‘ slows things down again for the metalcore quintet and is another example of the band’s earlier releases coming back for more in what can only be described as a continuation or leftover from 2015‘s Skydancer album. Rounding out Ark is ‘Now‘ which features a slow fading-in ambient instrumental sound, that you might hear briefly in other songs scattered throughout this album. It peaks in the middle but is somewhat of an anti-climax compared to the rest of the album that came before it. For those hoping to still be hyped up by the end of your listening adventure, I can assure you, you’ll probably end up falling asleep. But if that’s your kind of thing, then by all means, vibe away dude.
Ark, with it’s powerful first half that draws your attention to the band and the direction they could be heading, sadly drops the ball with the final act despite a few bangers that at times felt somewhat out of place surrounded by their neighbouring songs around them. Years ago In Hearts Wake positioned themselves as one of the Top Four Australian Heavy Bands that were set to dominate alongside Parkway, Amity and Northlane, however Ark has let them down in this instance, opening the spot for another act like Violent Soho, Hellions or (in a few years) Ocean Grove/Polaris to take their place. Its good at best, but not great, outstanding or exceptional like their previous releases.
In Hearts Wake – Ark tracklisting
In Hearts Wake are Touring in July.
Ticketing Details here