Aussie band, In Hearts Wake, have released their 4th full length studio album called Ark. Ark was released on the 26th of May via UNFD and Rise Records. The Byron Bay metalcore outfit formed in 2006 and have also released two EPs, a split single with Northlane and a split album with The Bride.
They are fronted by Jake Taylor on vocals. Eaven Dall is on guitar and Kyle Erich is the bassist while both also add backing vocals and clean sections. Conor Ward is the drummer and Ben Nairne is the rhythm guitarist.
GBHBL managed to see In Hearts Wake play in London while in support of While She Sleeps, you can read about that here, but it wasn’t great. After that show, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the album at all. We did give the single, Passage a go though and it was an improvement. Read about that here.
While the single was pretty decent, it didn’t really offer anything new or inspiring. It was just another alright metalcore song in an already stuffed genre. Could the album offer more? I hope so.
Well, after listening to all 12 tracks and 44 minutes of music many, many times, I can safely say it is an……………..(drum roll)…………….. okay album. That is pretty much all I have. Worst review ever right? And that is probably fair but it is really hard to judge an album like this. Is it an album? Yes. Is there any music on it? Yes. Is it metalcore? Yes. Is it any good? Not really. Is it really bad then? No, not really.
Ark isn’t a really bad album and it isn’t a really good album. Much like the single Passage, it sits in the average, genre filler bracket. There is nothing new on offer, unless you want to learn lots about sailing and water. It is about as lukewarm and uninspiring an album as you are likely to hear. At the same time, there isn’t really anything drastically wrong with it either.
It starts off badly with the title track Ark being a minute long intro that is a sample of the coast with seagulls before a little melodic instrumental starts for a few seconds before it leads into the single Passage. Lyrically the band are very firmly focused on environmental issues. In Hearts Wake tend to speak of this using a ship and water metaphorically. We are the ship and who is steering? etc…
Because of this you get a lot of references to sailing and sea fare and such. Questions like “Whose steering the ship?” and statements like “You can’t set sail if the sails are damaged” are delivered honestly enough but are a bit funny and make you think of pirates.
To be fair to In Hearts Wake, they deserve credit for their positive attitude towards the environment especially as they do back it up with action. They even created and run a program to clean up Australian beaches and waterways under the title “we are waterborne“. Well done guys.
Back to the music and the first few tracks have passed by without me even noticing really. Nomad is one of the most generic tracks imaginable. Harsh vocals, soft chorus backed by harsh vocals over a simple drum beat and repetitive riff. A slow down that leads back into a chorus before we get a big disjointed breakdown at the end with some gang vocals. You couldn’t make it up. Except you could. And everyone already has.
We get the same issue in Warcry, Overthrow and Waterborne though I don’t mind Warcry as much. Is has a chunkier feel to the riff and Jake Taylor spits some real venom in his vocals. Overthrow and Waterborne are just a bit dull though. My biggest dislike on the album are the many tracks that go for the melodic verse, heavy chorus framework (again, tried, tested and abused to death).
Flow has a great intro but then descends into mediocrity until the last 30 seconds when it becomes a rocking track. Like a sandwich with nice bread and no filling. Nice bread or not, that is still a shit sandwich!
Elemental has a couple nice guitar moments, the heavier ones, but is soaked in boring melodic chords and rhythms. Perfectly listenable but also a bit tepid.
We have two tracks, Frequency and Arrow, which are almost ballad like. Arrow is pretty much a ballad completely where Frequency does eventually build up into a heavier section. While I guess it is good to see the band trying something not quite as stereotypical, neither song has much of an impact while simultaneously being okay.
The closing song, Now, is mainly instrumental (synth and keys) with a little background, soft gang vocals. It has no impact at all which is probably the correct way to end the album. The penultimate song, Totality, is a decent track though. Not amazing but decent. There is a nice rhythm to it as it mixes back and forward from melodic to heavy. It feels like they get their message across more passionately here.
So there you have it. A lot of criticism, I know. To be fair to In Hearts Wake, they seem like a talented and grounded bunch. They have skills, they have an important message or subject matter and they have a fan base. I guess that is where my disappointment comes from. You get the feeling they could do a lot more and really impact the genre. They are nicely positioned to do just that but Ark is the opposite. Rather than impacting anything it will disappear quietly into the background relatively quickly and then be forgotten other than to the most die hard of fans.
Still, you should check it out for yourself so pick the album up from here or via the Amazon/Apple links below. Check out In Hearts Wake on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too. Be sure to give them a like or follow to stay up to date with future news and music too.
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Ark by In Hearts Wake (UNFD/Rise Records)
The Final Score - 5/10