Ark - In Hearts Wake
Artist: In Hearts Wake
Review by Steve Jenkins
In Hearts Wake have dominated the heavy music scene in Australia over the past couple of years, forming in 2006, this Byron Bay 5 piece metalcore act are now up-to their fourth studio album, and it's called Ark. Ever since their first release, Divination, back in 2011, the band quickly gained attention and it was soon apparent that In Hearts Wake would be the next week thing for metalcore music, with Parkway Drive at the top of that mountain. Many may argue that the band haven't done anything really refreshing or different with their past couple of albums, which is why Ark would be an eager release to see where In Hearts Wake are at now.
The first half of Ark is a little underwhelming, with most of the sounds being familiar and giving off strong metalcore sounds that we've mostly heard before. The guitars don't sound very inspired and the occasional chunky breakdown is thrown in there for good measure. The vocals are on point like always but once again, nothing compelling. But wait just a second, do not give up on this record yet. Because it's songs like 'Frequency' and 'Arrow' that save this album from becoming a total miss. With atmosphere, clear emotion and beautiful ambiance, these elements seem to be what make In Hearts Wake unique in their own way, it's also where they sound their best. 'Arrow' features bassist and singer Kyle Erich on his own here, with lead vocalist Jake Taylor notable by his absence, and is easily the strongest song on the record as far as structure and flow is concerned. After this point, the record begins to pick up a little more. The ferocity of the heavier tracks like 'Flow' and 'Overthrow' sounds genuine, with both tracks combining spacious verses with crushing riffs and hard choruses, 'Overthrow' in particular uses some interesting percussive sounds. It's the little additions in these tracks that makes them stand out from the first half of the record, and it feels like In Hearts Wake really gave their all and everything they had with these mentioned tracks.
As we near the end of the album, 'Now' is a perfect example of how In Hearts Wake have every chance and potential to move forward with their music. With a haunting, interesting and divergent sound, there's a certain mystique about where this band could go with the tools that they have. You need only listen to the songs on 'Earthwalker' to see what this band are truly capable of. They have the ability to create atmosphere whilst being heavy, and I fear they've fallen into the trap of imitating and following what so many modern metalcore bands do, as opposed to continuing to experiment.
There's no denying that In Hearts Wake went into this record with the best of intentions. What they do have that many don't is a strong, clear and unique message. Prior to this record's release, the band organized a program to clean up waterways and beaches in Australia, and called it the 'We Are Waterborne Initiative'. The band's pure and positive environmental message has been consistent throughout their discography, and that is commendable.
This album does indeed have ups and downs and whilst it isn't a bad album at all, I feel like about half of the material on here is great and the other half is kind of forgettable. Ark has some very enjoyable moments that fans of the band will be sure to love, but there's always this falling that they're capable of more. Part of me just wants to see them go completely left of field and release something that will shock everyone, because I know they can do that. In Hearts Wake are definitely terrific people that stand for a wonderful cause, their music is powerful and you can tell they're passionate about what they do. This isn't their best work, but I have a feeling we have yet to hear it.
6.5 out of 10 stars.
Check out the video for 'Passenger' below