In Hearts Wake
Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW
July 14th, 2017
Supports: While She Sleeps, Crossfaith and Polaris
With a line up like this, I knew the night was going to be absolutely massive, and undoubtedly vicious, but I don’t think I had conceived of exactly what that meant. However, after a forty minute wait in line, three missing earrings and a bloody nose, I think I finally got the picture.
In order to build up to the enormous climax of the night though, we all must start somewhere, and that somewhere was Polaris. Hailing from Sydney’s south this band has generated a lot of buzz not just in their hometown but all over Australia with their relentless touring. This has not dulled their energy though; as they spun about on stage extolling their metalcore ways, the crowd below had all eyes trained on the band Djent influenced riffing swarmed through the theatre as the two vocalists belted out their respective parts (screamed and clean, of course) with so much force I thought they would burst. It is certain that many early comers to the show walked away newly born Polaris fans that night, and will continue to follow the young band’s blazing trail into the future.
Up next was the leviathan (heh) that was Crossfaith. “The greatest live show I’ve ever seen” is an egregious understatement when it comes to this Japanese powerhouse. Opening with insanely catchy ‘System X’ from latest album Xeno, the band took to the stage and promptly exploded everyone’s minds (and bodies if you were in the pit) with ‘Monolith’. Featuring some of the hardest hitting, fastest flowing electronic/hardcore music this side of the universe, Crossfaith really are a cut above the rest. Tracks like ‘Countdown to Hell’ and ‘Jaegerbomb’ are the reasons why walls of death were invented; Kenta Koie subjecting the crowd to not one but three over the course of the set that left me feeling not only bruised, but more energised than ever. Koie is a wonderful frontman, exuding his own manic energy but also channeling the entire band’s craziness through himself and releasing it into the crowd. The result is plainly put, the biggest circle pits I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing that a band that is so rooted in the hardcore genre, can utilise so many influences: Koie and Terufumi Tamano’s vocal range, the groove of the riffs and the speed and absolute ferocity of Tatsuya Amano hark back to more classic American thrash and heavy metal. Despite this, or maybe because of it, they are one of those bands I implore that everyone see at least once.
Keeping the energy levels at 9000 is a hard task for any band following Crossfaith, but While She Sleeps succeeded in not only keeping it there, but sent it into the red and ruptured whatever instrument you use to measure such things. Coming on stage, you can’t help but notice they’re a lot less theatrical than the previous bands, but all the more magnetic for it. They’re a bunch of guys that just so happen to be in front of us, playing instruments, hanging out. Oh, and also playing some of the best fucking hardcore released all year! Latest album You Are We’s title track kicked the set off like an electric shock to the balls, sending the entire crowd into the air, jumping in time to the marvellous work of Adam Savage and Aaran Mckenzie. The rage driven lyrics and perfectly brutal shouting (not to mention the mastery of the two second whirlwind) of Lawrence Taylor and Mat Welsh seemed to strike a chord with the crowd, morphing the pits into close knit bundles of clamouring limbs and hoarse screaming, ‘Brainwashed’ calls to mind the most insane point of the night. They continued to be so even when guitarist Sean Long jumped into the crowd never missing a note. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff – While She Sleeps from the rest – their outstanding musicianship and their even more outstanding stage presence.
The preceding bands had cultivated such a sense of frenetic, unbridled energy that I was chomping at the bit for the show to keep moving, which after a lengthy wait, it did. Wreathed in stage smoke, the silhouettes of In Hearts Wake revealed themselves to the crowd as single ‘Passage’ began. Accompanied by an explosion of streamers and a frankly outstanding lighting setup, vocalist Jake Taylor appeared from the shadows shouting the opening lyrics, getting the crowd riled up again. His throaty, deep vocals accompanied the heavily down tuned chugs of Eavan Dall and Ben Nairne perfectly: I was excited to see how what was to come, I was excited to see some chaos, I was excited to see how this band I knew practically nothing about would develop.
But alas, my voluntary ignorance of this band was warranted shortly after. The song that had started off so promisingly abruptly switched registers and saw clean vocals slapped into the middle of it. I thought, well, okay, that’s fine, lots of bands do it, hell, While She Sleeps just did it, let’s see how it pans out. But again and again, each song followed the same generic metalcore riffs and patterns of A B A B C B song writing that I actually became lethargic watching the band. This wasn’t just related to the music either (although it played a big part), as the whole band besides Eavan Dall lacked any semblance of stage presence, I wondered if they even wanted to be there outside of the kitschy stage stunts that the band felt the need to stuff between songs in a ham fisted attempt to get the crowd involved. The only time throughout the set that I felt connected to the band was during the song ‘Frequency’ which saw bassist Kyle Erich take front and centre for ninety percent of the song, making me think In Hearts Wake would do better as a hard rock four piece.
Despite the crowd not being as energetic or involved as with the previous two bands, there was still movement and obviously a lot of die hard fans were present. Strained, screaming faces were the norm as they followed along with the passionate lyrics and the movements of the band. Moshing had become practically absent in this time and two step ninja battles had instead reigned supreme; the slow, heavy breakdowns facilitated by Connor Ward made sure of that. Once it had become time for the encore, I would say a second wind of sorts occurred, as ‘Arrow’ and ‘Refuge’, presumably long standing crowd favourites breathed new life into the venue; both the band becoming more unified in their efforts and the crowd responding in kind. The music still seemed the same, but the feeling was there, the passion shared by both the band and the crowd. Where their previous efforts had failed, this succeeded and I can only expect that the band will mirror this in shows to come.
Anyway, it’s not up to the lonely opinions of yours truly whether a show was a success or not, and I can safely say that overall, every single person at the Enmore that night, had a crazy, unforgettable time.
Review — Dylonov Tomasivich
In Hearts Wake Set List —
While She Sleeps
In Hearts Wake