Release Date: 7th August 2020
"Taylor's vocals sound simply demonic, with inhumanely low growls set against the backdrop of ear-splitting drums and guitar parts."
Australia’s In Hearts Wake have always been a band that have used their musical platform to speak about the environment and the damage that modern living is creating. They take this message to the next level on Kaliyuga, the band's fifth studio album: one that promised to be their most diverse record yet.
Before release, frontman Jake Taylor explained that “During the recording process we measured every power socket, counted every light, pound of freight, food consumption, driving mile and airfare taken. We were then able to find the total carbon footprint and offset it by supporting a rewilding project in Australia on First Nations land.” This has led to the planting of over one thousand trees, with physical albums having no single-use plastics, made with recycled materials. This caused a few hurdles for the band during the production process concerning sustainable materials and finding suitable companies to work with.
Moving onto the actual music, the album kicks off with 'Crisis'. Upon first listen the listener wouldn’t be wrong to think they had hit play on a new Prodigy record. Greta Thunberg’s “Our house is on fire” speech is the first thing to be heard, whilst an amen break drum pattern beats along as the backdrop. An extremely groovy guitar riff is then introduced with scattered electronics sprinkled throughout. To some long-time fans, this is definitely not the classic Wake sound. The claim of how diverse the album was going to be, at this point seems to hold true.
'Worldwide Suicide' is up next. This track arguably has its hands in everything from EDM to metalcore, deathcore and more. It is definitely one of the heaviest pieces that the band have ever produced. Taylor's vocals sound simply demonic, with inhumanely low growls set against the backdrop of ear-splitting drums and guitar parts. One thing to be noted is that 'Worldwide Suicide' was the first single to be released. Being extremely aggressive from the get-go may have set fans expectations that this album would mostly be on the heavy side which sadly, does not ring true.
The third track, 'Hellbringer', does a decent job of keeping things heavy instrumentally, albeit with some extremely questionable cringe-inducing lyrics concerning heavy music in a religious context, such as “If waking words are treason / And mother earth a demon / Then I'm a fucking sinner / So go ahead and pull the trigger.” I have obviously taken this out of context and I might have enjoyed this when I was younger. Upon first listen I laughed, but mostly in embarrassment.
After these three most enjoyable tracks, things slow down and all momentum that the album had seems to cease. Tracks 'Moving On', 'Son of a Witch', and 'Crossroads' were pretty forgetful upon first listen and on repeat playthroughs, I struggled not to press the skip button. The latter is a straight-up break-up song that includes vocals from Taylor's former partner, which to some may be poignant but mostly feels out of place on an album that deals with serious topics such as the environment and religion.
Things don’t really pick up again until 'Force Of Life', which is the tenth track. The song rhythmically pounds along and leads into a crushing breakdown. The band definitely are at their best when they play things fast and heavy: Kaliyuga exemplifies this.
Album closer '2033' is moody and atmospheric. It starts slow and builds into a flowing segment of heavy instrumentation, with clean vocals provided by bassist Kyle Erich. This song finds a perfect balance between both heavy and soft directions that the band have tried to pursue on Kaliyuga. The promise of the album is the band's most diverse release, which seems to have been delivered.
Kaliyuga has definitely done well to deliver the environmental message which is portrayed on virtually every aspect of the album. For that, they should be credited. The hype surrounding Kaliyuga was incredibly strong, but ultimately could be its biggest downfall. The initial singles showcased that things were going to be heavier this time around, however, most songs ultimately failed to deliver. The middle body of the album destroys all momentum that was established thanks to its strong start and doesn’t pick up again until the very end of the album. The album will definitely split long-time fans down the middle, with many hoping that the band would go back to their classic metalcore sound.
Words by John Canham.
14th August 2020.