There is a terrible misconception about hardcore/metalcore (insert list of sub-genres) and how the music is a self-indulgent trip into depression and darkness – with no real meaning at all. This is of course bullshit. And so it is brilliant to now be able to showcase the new In Hearts Wake album, Earthwalker, in front of these musical-elitists’ faces and prove how wrong they are. For this album, does not revolves around suicide, and isn’t just ‘noise’. Instead, it is a concept album about the preservation of the planet and of nature, and presents this message in a beautiful musical experience.
Back in 2012, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake released their debut album Divination which earned them a great deal of attention because, frankly, it was awesome. Featuring guest vocals from the likes of Winston McCall and Adrian Fitipaldes, it was hard to ignore this album. Along with the release of their charity project Skydancer (with a standalone single released of the same name) it also became evident that this band really care about what they believe in – and they believe in helping people and preserving nature. It’d just be immoral not to like a band with an ethos like that…
Anyway, after all of this success from their first album, it is understandable why the announcement of the second album caused a huge buzz. Then, when they dropped the first single Divine, the entire fan base started counting down the days until they could hold a copy of this album in their eager hands. The infectiously catchy chorus of this track made it unforgettable and it wasn’t too long before seemingly every fan knew all the words – so it’s safe to say there’ll be some great sing-alongs when they tour. The second song to be released before the album was Sacred Chaos, a track with a very clear message about human consumption of natural resources and the pure brutality of the vocals and the breakdowns made this track arguably the heaviest they’ve released. The eerie sound of the dropping of coins at the very end of the track being a wonderful motif to represent consumerist greed – and proving how the band are not afraid to make the listener question themselves as well as big businesses who seem to be the main target of the band’s message. However, before people go thinking it’s all seriousness with the band, their April Fools’ joke this year was to release a ‘new track’ called Brown Rice, Tuna & Salad, which saw them swap metalcore for hip-hop as each band member rapped about their love for the aforementioned meal. What’s most frustrating about this track is how good it actually is and how disappointing it is that it won’t be played live (it is assumed…)
Another track this album has to offer is the title track Earthwalker which features vocals from none other than Joel Birch of fellow Australian metalcore band The Amity Affliction. The combination of Birch’s vocals and both those of Jake Taylor and Kyle Erich make this track an instant hit and opening the album with such a strong chorus makes the album easily accessible from the instant you hit play. However, arguably, the strongest chorus comes from Gravity which contains a power that is undeniable and is a must-feature on upcoming setlists.
Ironically, the heaviest track on the album is the one which offers the best message lyrically. Healer speaks of the need to let go of grudges and for people to live in peace and unity, and yet encases this message in the most intense breakdown the band could muster, with drop-tuned guitars and trashy china cymbals creating a perfect juxtaposition between these ideas. However, the penultimate track Wildflower is the prime example of where fragility and heaviness come together. The majority of this track is clean vocals, with pure emotion coming through in the sweetness of Erich’s voice, but then the final minute of the track hits with the unclean vocals asserting the sense of loss exposed by the lyrics.
On the whole, this album is truly one of the best to be released all year for the genre. There reaches a point where bands struggle to not fall into the category of being generic, and it is safe to say that In Hearts Wake are in no danger of being accused of this. The mixture of beautiful clean guitar and deep-bodied down-tuned distorted guitar blend amazingly and the clearness of the drums and the cymbals make every single fill sound majestic. This album offers all of the things that make metalcore such an amazing, and legitimate, genre and this album deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest to define it.
Watch the video for Divine below.
Earthwalker is out now.
Words > Stephen Morris