Released on 26th May 2017, In Hearts Wake’s fourth studio album Ark follows a triumphant tour supporting While She Sleeps and precedes an upcoming headline tour of the UK in October. Aside from the music itself, much can be said about the concept of the album. One thing that stands out, for example, are the punchy track titles. In keeping with their three previous full length albums, all twelve of the track titles on Ark are condensed into a single, concise word: keeping stylistic integrity intact, perhaps unlike some bands which spring to mind (looking at you, circa 2005 P!ATD and FOB!). Furthermore, much can be said for the message of the album; In Hearts Wake tell a flowing story through their new album of a need to look after our earth – the eponymous Ark – with environmentally politically charged lyrics throughout.
One advantage of reviewing an album so late after its release is that I was able to see others’ opinions. Some have cited a banality in the first half of the album and noted a danger of In Hearts Wake blending into modern metalcore with nothing to differentiate them from the mainstream metalcore scene. Whilst I did not agree with the assessment of the first half of the album as mediocre, tracks six and seven- Waterborne and Arrow respectively – did, for me signify a turning point in the record. The breakdown at 2.46 in Waterborne juxtaposes so well with the gentle persuasive nature of the opening 1.48 of Arrow, and here the melodic vocals – vocalist Jake Taylor and his heavy vocals here conspicuous in their absence – serve to change the tempo of the album.
Although fans of In Hearts Wake’s previous albums may be disappointed in the lack of heavy guitar riffs and the lack of screaming vocals in some places – both focal points in their previous full length albums – but, after all, Ark finds the Australian quintet eleven years after their inception (and six years after their first full length offering) and progression is therefore inevitable, and no doubt people would complain if they had churned out four albums of the exact same thing. Full of thematically sound ideologies as well as catchy, angst-y anthems, this is by no means a bad or disappointing record and the band are one to watch as they gain a following breaking out from the more underground metalcore scene.