Another beauty from the Byron Bay boys.
The conservation and protection of nature and the planet itself is a significant and widespread issue for a lot of people. Equally, it's something that Australia's very own In Hearts Wake have always been vocal about in terms of approach. Now they've centred the bulk of their new sophomore album, 'Earthwalker' around these concerns. Theme wise, it works really well, as the lyrics considerately and thoughtfully urge the listener to reflect how they live their lives. Nothing really new for a hardcore/metalcore band there, but it isn't blatantly preachy either, which is a trapping the band could have easily fallen into.
Themes aside, the band's music is still solid. 'Gaia' is your typical metalcore album opener/instrumental track, allowing for the guitars and drums to come in one by one and build it all up to near "epic" levels for the following eponymous track. Which would have been a much better starting point, we feel. Seeing as it doesn't waste anyone's time and gets the full-length moving along in the best way possible. It also features a short but sweet guest appearance from The Amity Affliction's Joel Birch.
Straight away, you'll notice the band's musicianship remains strong and consistent. Bassist and clean singer, Kyle Erich, for the most part, has the same tone he's always delivered. However, every now and then he produces a slightly heavier, deeper shout, like on lead single, 'Divine'. Whereas lead vocalist Jake Taylor has a powerfully heavy voice... that has been maybe somewhat over mixed, but it still works for their sound.
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'Sacred' asserts itself as one of the best songs In Hearts Wake have ever written. It's not a side-step from their overall metalcore sound though. Rather, it just perfectly combines the deeper, more vehement elements of their EP and split with the heavier vocals, fast rhythms, and ideal production/mixing of 'Divination', all with added weight and impact. Its ending lyric also packs a lot of punch, with 'Starving children will inherit the wasteland, so what the fuck will money achieve?' - a line that really sticks with you well after the song and 'Earthwalker' as a whole has ended.
Thankfully, the momentum doesn't stop in the latter half. The dual vocal harmonies between Taylor and Erich in 'Gravity' are a great example of metalcore done right and just straight up good songwriting. Furthermore, 'Truenorth' is one of those hopeful, non-conventionally catchy, introspective songs that bands these days just love to write, yet it's also one of this group's best. It also only features vocals from Taylor, whose heavy screams contrast with the bright melodies of the other instrumentals.
Following the incredibly emotional and beautiful cut, 'Wildflower', 'Mother' rounds out things in a somewhat expected manner; an ambient, overly melodic instrumental with a short sound bite about our overall respect and treatment of the Earth. Preferably, another full song would have been better here, but this track does reinforce the album's main theme, so hey, beggars can't be choosers. There's nothing here that will reinvent the wheel. It's a pretty familiar sound for the band and what came before with 'Divination'. The charm here, however, lies in the delivery and the sincerity.
Still keeping with their 'Parkway Drive with cleans' sound and with cleaner, more melodic guitar work, In Hearts Wake have busted out another great record. It's basically 'Divination' under a different moniker and cover, but it is still strong in its own right. Songs like 'Truenorth' and 'Sacred' are where the band really shines, and proves exactly why these Byron lads are quickly becoming one of Australia's biggest and best bands.