In Hearts Wake – Skydancer


Album

Skydancer

Label

UNFD/Rise Records

Year

2015

For Fans Of

The Amity Affliction, Northlane, Of Mice & Men

Summary

IHW dug up far too many a diamond last year.

Rating

70 / 100

Are you aware of the economic concept that the more qualitative something is, the less value it has? If there is a large deposit of diamonds in the ground then the chances are they won’t be dug up straight away as the moment they are, the entire price of the diamonds goes down.

I know what you’re thinking: “Come on guys, I didn’t come here for an economics lesson! I came here to get my music news and read FireEscape’s shitty troll comments.” And that is a fair thought to have. Except it serves a purpose in the context of ‘Skydancer‘; In Hearts Wake’s third album and twin album to last year’s ‘Earthwalker‘.

The 11 songs on this record were written at roughly the exact same time as ‘Earthwalker‘, with the band having created a double album with some pretty impressive promotion skills. The only issue is the aforementioned economics lesson: when there is a lot more of something, the less value it has.

The album opens with ‘Aether‘ meaning ‘heaven’ which contrasts the opening of ‘Earthwalker‘: ‘Gaia‘. It’s about a minute and a half of just synth pads and other instrumentation that leads into the titular track, of which is the best song on the album, no doubt. It feels like classic In Hearts Wake, with a ripe blend of heavy instrumentation and soulful melodies from all members of the band. It’s a very well woven track that sets the pace really well; only for the rest of the album to then fall short of the high expectations this band sets. ‘Breakaway‘ and ‘Badlands‘ are good songs in their own right but there’s something about them that just doesn’t feel quite as tasteful and satisfying as the predecessor did. They’re noticeably heavier than the band’s previous work with a far more aggressive tone and edgier feel but they lack the sort of appeal that nearly all the songs upon ‘Earthwalker‘ held.

The album moves forth onto tracks like ‘Wildfire‘ and ‘Insomnia‘ that once again can be called “good songs”; but they are just that. Good songs. They’re not great and they’re not bad; they’re just… good. Which leads to a sense of dissatisfaction when you know that lingering only a click back on your iPod is ‘Earthwalker‘; a record that had a much greater appeal than the current listening item. The songs don’t seem to really go anywhere on ‘Skydancer‘, the band seeming content with the same tone and feel on every track. This leaves your attention lingering and shifting from the record and to whatever else is happening in your life. Sadly, tracks like ‘Cottonmouth‘ and ‘Oblivion‘ also lose any sense of interest or engagement by the two-minute mark much like the ones before them.

The band brings out a few guest spots on this record to close the final half with ‘Erase‘ featuring Ben Marvin and J Hurley of Hacktivist and ‘Intrepid‘ having a contribution from Marcus Bridge of Northlane. Although these extra vocalists make for probably the more interesting side of the record, the songs themselves once again remain on the lacklustre side of things with the same form of instrumentation and songwriting we’ve heard throughout.

The finale of the record ‘Father‘ contrasts the closer of ‘Earthwalker‘: ‘Mother‘. It contains the same ambient backdrop to a spoken word section from an unknown man. However, the voice over and recording feels and sounds almost as tacky and cheap as the album’s artwork. That is by no means an insult or a stab at the designer, it’s simply an artistic evaluation.

One can argue that the lyrics are also important. This is very true and Jake Taylor pens some great words on both this and ‘Earthwalker‘. However, even the best motivational speaker in the world would go nowhere if he stood up on stage and simply muttered his entire speech from behind a curtain.

Conclusion

‘Skydancer’ isn’t so much a disappointment as it is just an average album. It is filled with songs that are more or less filler for what should have been an otherwise standout album. The songwriting feels a little weak here with the tracks seemingly there because they should be, not because the band had the want to. There’s a lot of passion in In Hearts Wake’s music and it just seems to be missing here. Twin albums are great in theory but if you don’t have the right mindset to make every song feel like it has its own life, then they won’t work the way they should. A lot of people will most likely disagree with this review but, in the end, what is music if you can’t critique it?

Tracklisting

  1.  Aether
  2. Skydancer (feat. Jonathan Vigil of The Ghost Inside)
  3. Breakaway
  4. Badlands
  5. Insomnia
  6. Oblivion
  7. Wildfire
  8. Cottonmouth
  9. Erase (Ben Marvin & J Hurley of Hacktivist)
  10. Intrepid (feat. Marcus Bridge of Northlane)
  11. Father

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