In Hearts Wake – Kaliyuga (Album Review)

Ancients from different cultures spoke of Four Ages of Humanity. The Hindu ancients called the Age we are in right now, ‘Kaliyuga’—a time when negativity such as discord, greed, materialism, and fear create strife and imbalance for life on earth,” explains In Hearts Wake frontman and creative architect Jake Taylor as his band prepare to release their fifth full-length, Kaliyuga, on Friday, August 7, 2020, via UNFD.

For an Australian band who made a splash on the final cross-country outing of the Vans Warped Tour in 2018, In Hearts Wake are taking it all in stride as they deliver new music. Formed in 2006 in Byron Bay, home to fellow Aussies Parkway Drive, the quintet issued their full-length debut, Divination, in 2012 then hit the road. Sharing stages with fellow koala-huggers Northlane and The Amity Affliction, as well as August Burns Red, Enter Shikari, Stick To Your Guns, Chelsea Grin, and more, helped the group to hone their skills for future albums such as 2014’s Earthwalker and 2017’s Ark.

And now it’s time for their fifth LP. It is important to note that In Hearts Wake has put in the work to account for the total carbon footprint amassed while creating Kaliyuga, and have taken the initiative to offset this number by producing projects that will restore the environment.  Additionally, they have gone to great lengths to create plastic-free packaging and manufacturing for physical copies of the LP. Teamed with UNFD, the band and label collaborated with an innovative Dutch company committed to sustainable ECO-pressing and packaging to craft a recycled cardboard digipak made of all non-toxic materials, including vegan ink and tape.

All this in mind, for Kaliyuga, In Hearts Wake—Vocalist Taylor, Guitarists Eaven Dall and Ben Nairne, Bassist/Clean Vocalist Kyle Erich, and Drummer Conor Ward—dish up 13 tracks that reflect the chaos of our current world. A return to working with long-time collaborator and producer Josh Schroeder (For the Fallen Dreams, Lorna Shore), the collection still manages a sense of hope if we can all acknowledge the challenges facing our world and fight to transform ourselves, and save our planet before it is too late.

Kaliyuga opens to quite possibly the most perfectly placed soundbite ever, as the poster-child for environmental activism, the wise beyond her years Greta Thunberg, announces: “This is an emergency: our house is on fire!” Racing guitars and thick rhythms anchor the introductory chaos of “Crisis,” which at just over a minute sets the tone for what is about to follow—and yes, it is an LP chock full of environmental issues. This frustration and sadness is funneled into proper first track, “Worldwide Suicide,” a propulsive Hardcore stomp that was inspired by the Australian wildfires.

A second soundbite ushers in the bold, Prog Metal-influenced guitars and infectious melodies of “Hellbringer,” a discussion about the “mess in the message” of religion. Satanism, fear of the unknown, and the loss of control tango amid a throttling sonicscape as In Hearts Wake, along with guest Jamie Hails of Polaris, get down and dirty in the name of Rock-n-Roll. Taking a moment to push aside the brutality, they open “Moving On” with soaring melodies from Erich, setting a mood for the arrival of Taylor’s viciously frustrated growls.

Mixing it up, there’s a Hip-Hop cadence to the verses of “Timebomb” before the quintet fully digs in and crafts an earworm to help you release the rage. Switching between melodies and Taylor’s signature growls, “Son Of A Witch” goes for big, sing-along choruses with catchy lines such as “I’m the son of a witch you failed to burn.” However, “Crossroads” is where they throw listeners a bit of a curveball and truly step beyond their comfort zone. Returning to the Hip-Hop pacing, the track initially lends itself to a Linkin Park comparison, but that’s before the arrival of featured guest vocalist Georgia Flood. Spotlighting the actress’ phenomenal performance, “Crossroads” ends up feeling like several different songs blended into one cohesive experience.

But the surprises do not stop there. Tossing in a ‘90s Alt Rock/Grunge influence, “Husk” continues to mix it up and show the band’s diversity, musically speaking, as their lyrics delve into a look at the inherent flaws in humanity. Next, at just under a minute, “Nāgá” provides an ominous slither (pun intended!) into the fraccas of the incendiary “Force of Life.” A push to overcome our ancestors’ careless mistakes, to be a force for environmental, social, and political justice, the track is a stand-out on a solid LP.

Coming off this high, Taylor takes the reins again for the gritty “Iron Dice,” which features Randy Reimann, a vocalist known for the Australian Punk outfit Massappeal. This segues fluidly more of that Alt Rock influence, which sits just beneath the surface of the undulating “Dystopia,” then continues into the grand finale, “2033.” Initially a funereal dirge for the future, the album’s conclusion rises toward hope as In Hearts Wake points out that if we can come together and learn our lessons and put in the necessary work before we pass the point of no return, we can be the change that saves planet Earth.

These lyrical themes of environmentalism, conservation, and beyond should be no surprise to fans, as in true Hardcore fashion, In Hearts Wake blend consciousness, activism, and frustration to create a brutal collection full of astute commentary. And while there is, at times, a simplicity to the arrangements that echoes these Hardcore roots, Kaliyuga still manages to divert from the formula and offer up some worthwhile surprises. Ultimately, you can bill the band however you like—some say Metalcore, we say they lean more toward Melodic Hardcore—but if you love heavy music with something intelligent to say, we suggest you open your arms to In Hearts Wake. Thus, Cryptic Rock gives Kaliyuga 4 of 5 stars.

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