Album review: Invent Animate – Heavener

Texan prog-metalcore pioneers Invent Animate reach for the skies on transcendental fourth album Heavener.

Album review: Invent Animate – Heavener
Sam Law

Sometimes you’ve got to unburden to ascend. There are heavy sounds and heavier themes at play on Invent Animate’s dizzying fourth album, but its remarkable momentum and atmosphere of release ensure we never get bogged down. After a challenging few years for the Port Neches, Texas collective, with the departure of original vocalist Ben English in early 2018 and the integration of his replacement Marcus Vik, Heavener picks up where 2020’s Greyview left off, once again parrying adversity into attack. And, though there is much of their trademark darkness in the songwriting here – death, heartache, relationship collapse, existential anxiety – there’s also more emphatic promise of light above the clouds.

On tellingly-titled lead single/closing track Elysium, for instance, Marcus reckons on the lingering hurt of losing his grandfather over a decade ago, with the transitions between suffocating riffs and airy purgation feeling like those between the stages of grief. Without A Whisper, too, finds guitarist Keaton Goldwire finding freedom by uncapping the well of emotion and uncertainty that had been brewing inside since the passing of his grandmother, revelling in the resultant eruption.

If there’s a problem with that uber-cathartic approach it’s that Invent Animate are reinserting themselves into an increasingly crowded field. With everyone from Northlane and Make Them Suffer, to Currents and Lorna Shore having dropped comparable songs about similar subject matter in recent years, there’s a struggle to truly stand out. You can’t fault the mastery of tone and feeling on the likes of probing opener Absence Persistent, techno-metal smasher False Meridian or sweet/savage highlight Purity Weeps, but neither could you say you’d not heard their like before.

No question, Heavener is proof that Invent Animate remain one of the most compelling acts in progressive metalcore. It’s just that the real intrigue lies in where they go next now they’ve left this baggage behind…

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: ERRA, Currents, Northlane

Heavener is out on March 17 via UNFD

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