Australian metalcore giants In Hearts Wake burst onto the scene in 2012 with its sophomore album and label debut “Divination,” though it had previously released an extended play and a self-produced full-length-album. Following that touring cycle, the group put out “Earthwalker” in 2014, but no one knew that there was another half to it.
In Hearts Wake announced in March that “Skydancer,” released May 5, is the companion to “Earthwalker.” In fact, the group recorded “Skydancer” at the same time as “Earthwalker,” but it remained secret for almost a year. Together, the albums explore the ancient belief of Father Sky and Mother Earth and the interplay between nature and humanity.
“Aether/Skydancer,” the first song on the record, builds slowly but hits hard once it reaches its peak. The song features Jonathan Vigil of The Ghost Inside on guest vocals, supplementing In Hearts Wake’s Jake Taylor on unclean vocals. Clean vocalist and bass player Kyle Erich flows through the chorus, which will be stuck in your head for days. This song does a great job of introducing the theme for the album and showing the coexisting nature between this record and “Earthwalker,” as fans will see many similarities.
“Breakaway,” the lead single for the album, is a classic In Hearts Wake song and a good entry point for those who have never listened to the band. It has airy verses and a fast-paced, memorable chorus with a big breakdown after the second chorus. “Badlands” and “Insomnia” hearken back to the “Divination” days with fewer clean vocals and a heavier sound to them. “Oblivion,” an instrumental track, and “Wildfire” are two of the less memorable tracks.
The eighth track, “Cottonmouth,” is the song fans have been demanding since “Divination,” a true follow-up to that record’s in-your-face attitude. From the start, the track kicks listeners in the teeth and does not let up for almost four minutes. The band also sees this as a partner to “Divination,” made evident about a minute in when the band uses a clip from the Halo series (“Killionaire”) before a breakdown. Fans will remember this style from the “Divination” track “Survival (The Chariot),” when the group used Halo’s “Killing Frenzy” in the same fashion.
“Erase,” a song featuring Ben Marvin and J Hurley from Hacktivist, is the most progressive on the record. Blending metal, pop-rock and rap in one song, this is a breath of fresh air, especially so late on an album.
“Intrepid,” featuring Marcus Bridge of Northlane, is another heavy hitter. “Father,” the album closer and companion piece to the “Earthwalker’s track “Mother,” uses the spoken word to remind listeners that humanity is merely one piece in the web that is Earth and nature.
A lyric from the song reads, “Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
The album earns a very good 8.5/10 from me, definitely living up to expectations. Points were lost for some generic lyrics, all-too-similar parts in different songs and the slightly lackluster vocal performance from unclean vocalist Jake Taylor, who fails to show more than one or two vocal styles.
I recommend this album for fans of Northlane, The Amity Affliction and Of Mice and Men. For those on the fence about this release, check out “Breakaway,” “Cottonmouth” and “Erase” for a good representation of what In Hearts Wake can do. Rumors say that the band will be touring North America this summer with Northlane and Invent, Animate. Suffice to say that I will definitely be there.