Album Review: In Hearts Wake – Kaliyuga
If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s that ignorance is no protection against the unthinkable: environmental catastrophe, increasingly riven socio-political divides, a global pandemic which should’ve served as a wake-up call but has been met by even more utterly broken discourse. In the face of such turmoil, a shell-shocked music industry coming to terms with the dreaded “new normal” has offered a trickle of fresh material to distract from the shitshow, but little encouraging us to constructively engage with it. Thank fuck, then, for In Hearts Wake.
‘This is an emergency,’declares Crisis, a skidding 80-second electro-rock opener setting the tone for their furious fifth LP. ‘Our house is on fire.’ Picking up where 2017’s excellent Ark left off, Kaliyuga finds the Byron Bay boys repurposing antiquated imagery to address contemporary crises, with a thrilling combination of innovative urgency and primal alarm. Named after the Hindu Age of Kali – the final stage in the “cycle of yugas” – as set out in the Sanskrit scriptures, parallels are drawn between our dire predicament and the prophesied tipping-point of global materialism, disconnection, xenophobia, oppression and inhumanity.
Where the ancients saw only doomed inevitability, however, these songs stress an unprecedented opportunity to pull our fingers out and take destiny into our own hands. ‘On the edge don’t be fooled by all the shadows,’demands pivotal fourth single Dystopia. ‘Imagine what we’re capable of if we just see through the lie.’ Murky pessimism is blown away by a genre-straddling calling-to-arms, while their near-missionary zeal manifests in a vibrant swirl of modern metalcore, walking a fine line between earworm accessibility and earnest unrest.
The vocal interplay between frontman Jake Taylor’s brutish growl and bassist Kyle Erich’s soaring melodies is emblematic of that dichotomy, lighting up the widescreen sprawl of Moving On and Son Of A Witch’s nu-metal inflected stomp. The balance runs throughout their increasingly-accomplished songwriting, though, from grunge-inflected pseudo ballads like Husk via the out-there weirdness of extended-interlude Nāgá to towering epic Force Of Life. Stylistically, we’re pitched somewhere between the pumped metalcore of Parkway Drive and Northlane, the down-and-dirty, sample-heavy experimentalism of latter-day Ministry, and the stadium-seeking serratedness of Meteora-era Linkin Park. Stirring stuff.
This consistency extends through their varied collaborations, too. Jamie Hails of Polaris lends his heft to the full-throttle Hellbringer, a fascinating rebuke to those who consider metal the music of lesser minds and consciences. Just when mid-album turning point Crossroads feels like it’s veering towards sub-Crazy Town rap-rock, a snarl of six-string and the arrival of Australian actress Georgia Flood transform it into a glitchy, grandstanding pop-rock anthem. Randy Reimann of Aussie hardcore mainstays Massappeal even drops in, pouring pure gasoline on the already-incendiary Iron Dice.
Tellingly, Kaliyuga is at its most bristlingly visceral when narrowing its globalist scope to draw from personal experience. Having watched their homeland burn in the horrendous bushfires at the start of the year, there’s no doubting the authenticity of In Hearts Wake’s environmentalist motivation. ‘It’s dying from the inside,’ explodes Worldwide Suicide, verging on outright nihilism. ‘It’s a wildfire lullaby / It’s the final kiss goodnight.’ That perspective has only bred further determination. The full carbon footprint of the album-making process was calculated and offset through a re-wilding project on Australian First Nations land. For every 1,000 views of the video aforementioned lead single Worldwide Suicide a tree was planted. Physical copies will be manufactured plastic-free. The broader existential impasse won’t be easily broken, though.
Big-flexing late-album landmark Force Of Life and tumultuous closer 2033 keep swinging to the bitter end, their gloomy aesthetics and declaration that ‘the future does not exist’ wary, perhaps, of suggesting light on the horizon. It’s an acknowledgement that whether or not this music makes any real difference will depend, ultimately, on who’s listening. What is clear is that In Hearts Wake have delivered an LP with the substance and accessibility to touch the widest possible audience – and the quality to cement their place at the top table of Aussie metalcore. The righteous little rippers.
For Fans Of: Parkway Drive, Polaris, Ministry
In Hearts Wake’s new album Kaliyuga is released August 7 via UNFD – pre-order/pre-save your copy now.
READ THIS: Your guide to the world of Kaliyuga
In Hearts Wake frontman Jake Taylor unpacks the prescient tumult and hopeful call to arms of new album, Kaliyuga
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