In Hearts Wake – ‘Kaliyuga’

By Dave Stewart

In Hearts Wake are a band that have always championed life and its sustenance, and new album ‘Kaliyuga’ is the pure embodiment of that sentiment. Following their last three records ‘Earthwalker’, ‘Skydancer’ and ‘Ark’, all of which orbit around themes of earth, wind, and water respectively, this record is the final chapter in their elemental series. An album that has both been inspired and bookended by fire, particularly those that have torn through and devastated California and Australia over the last few years, it stokes both their passion for change and their anger at the world’s injustices and imbalances, stirring them into a furious blaze. That element of passion is something that’s been present in everything they’ve released to date, but it’s never been as prominent as it is here, coursing through the record in its audible contents, its physical form, and the journey they took to make it.

Whilst recording this album, the band kept a track of everything they did that impacted their carbon footprint. Power sockets, lightbulbs, freight, flights, food consumption – they tracked it all, worked out their total carbon footprint, and offset it by supporting a rewilding project in Australia. Not only that, but they went out of their way to research materials and processes for the production of the physical product and found companies that shared their ethos, allowing them to manufacture and package it completely plastic free. A green record like no other, ‘Kaliyuga’ is already unique on the surface. Dive into it and you’ll find that the music encased within is just as wonderful.

This is by far the bands most ambitious record to date, crammed full of diversity and unexpected twists that confidently stride alongside their trademark metalcore power. It gracefully treads from heavy to serene, never really giving any indication which direction it’s going to head in next. For starters, nobody was expecting anything as brutal as first single ‘Worldwide Suicide’, a short and sharp wrecking ball of disgust that reduces any genre barriers they had surrounding them to rubble. It’s easily their heaviest track to date, the seething rage impossible to ignore as the gut-rumbling low tones and evil riffs violently demonstrate just how strongly they feel about their message. It throttles you and forces you to pay attention, with everything that follows it proving to be more than worthy of your gaze.

‘Kaliyuga’ is home to some of In Hearts Wake’s most ominous material, the songwriting prowess they’ve developed over the years helping the songs wallow and drone like never before. ‘Iron Dice’ is a prime example of this, with vocalist Jake Taylor’s menacing snarls leading the haunting industrial verses as they traipse towards one of the punchiest breakdowns of the record. Guitar duo Eaven Dall and Ben Nairne bust out their finest riff work to date for the fiery ‘Hellbringer’, its devilish energy summoning intense twitches from all your usual mosh muscles. ‘Son Of A Witch’ is as bludgeoning as it is beautiful, ‘Force Of Life’ is a musically nostalgic and lyrically powerful sledgehammer, and it doesn’t stop there. There’s so much more to this record than the heaviness, and those parts of it glisten through the flames.

The striking and compelling message of ‘Dystopia’ chills you right down to the bone, the music constantly shapeshifting and changing to match the intensity of the lyrics. Conor Ward’s drum work is particularly impressive here, playing the part of the conductor as he smoothly leads the band in and out of the dramatic, ever-changing dynamics. ‘Crossroads’ is an absolute groove-fest, boasting chilled verses, slick basslines, meaty guitars and some silky, dreamy guest vocals courtesy of Australian singer Georgia Flood. ‘Timebomb’ is an undeniable anthem, beckoning fists everywhere to punch the air in unison as bassist and clean vocalist Kyle Erich’s addictive chorus melody brands itself into your brain. There’s the dark and sinister ‘2033’, the solemn and moving ‘Husk’, the insatiable and passionate ‘Moving On’ – they’ve covered so much ground, presented it all in so many different ways, but still managed to make the record sound like a complete package. This is a seriously impressive record, made even more impressive by their approach to the entire process.

In Hearts Wake aren’t just promoting a message anymore, they’ve become the message. As well as discussing global issues and creating talking points, they’ve also taken a huge first step towards changing the way parts of the music industry operate by proving that it’s possible to do things differently. Everything they’ve done over the course of their career has demonstrated their undying desire for progression and change, from planting trees and cleaning up beaches to charitable donations to organisations such as Sea Shepherd, but this album sits in its own league. This isn’t just something you can read or hear about – this is something that you can touch, that you can hold, that you can surround yourself with and completely sink into. It doesn’t just speak about changing things, it actually does change things by existing.

There is no other record like this, and there is no other band like In Hearts Wake. ’Kaliyuga’ is truly special and, in time, may come to represent something much more than simply an album. Open your mind, listen, and learn. You won’t regret it.

DAVE STEWART

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