In every genre of music, there are always bands that seek to emulate those who have come before them, and yet never manage to quite achieve the same thing. Anyone who’s listened to 90% of death metal can attest that it’s not really quite as good as the standouts. It feels a lot like metalcore has really taken the biscuit when it comes to this though. Ever since the explosion of bands like Asking Alexandria, Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine, Killswitch Engage (the list could go on here) so many bands have come through who are just trying to jump on their back and make metalcore that makes them money.
Whilst In Hearts Wake are perhaps not simply trying to milk the Cash Cow to within an inch of its life, their music is only marginally less insipid than the bands who listened to Reckless & Relentless and thought “Oh yeah, we can do that and be really popular”.
Ark is, quite simply put, an album. There are a few moments that suggest that maybe In Hearts Wake have put more time into the thought behind their songs than simply figuring out which end of the guitar is the one where you down tune it; lead single ‘Nomad‘ in particular has a distinctly August Burns Red feel to it; ‘Flow‘ is the quintessence of the style of music In Hearts Wake craft. The lyrics, in particular, seem to have had a decent amount of thought put into them, and they all link together quite nicely to form a decent “narrative” to the album, although by track six ‘Waterborne‘ you do want to quietly put your hands over the singers’ mouths and say: “Yes. We get it. There’s lots of water and we’re sailing on it and other such nautical terms.”
Ark manages to do what a good chunk of other modern metalcore bands fail at in that it manages to be quite listenable all of the way through the album. The electronic usage is clichéd up to the eyeballs but manages to be used sparingly enough that it isn’t that much of a deal breaker. There is also a particularly annoying feeling that the band thinks that the album is much more epic-sounding than it actually, particularly in the clean vocal section, an offense that In Hearts Wake’s fellow countrymen The Amity Affliction.
In Hearts Wake fans are certainly going to be well on board with this (see, we can make lazy sailing references too) and if you’re a fan of The Amity Affliction or Blessthefall you’re probably already so in on this band that it would take a rescue operation that even Chilean miners would be gawking at to get you back out, but as for exploring for new kinds of music and setting sail for far-off lands of untapped artistic expression, In Hearts Wake are still all the way back in the port, passed out with a bottle of rum.
And someone’s nicked their peg leg.