Dream Theater have been at the top of the game for such a long time …
Australia’s favourite eco-friendly metalcore outfit In Hearts Wake are making their return, with a fierce new album that embodies something that the world has been seeing a lot of lately: fire.
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“Kaliyuga as a theme is really asking us as humanity to look into the mirror to say; ‘What am I okay with? What am I not okay with?’ Rather than avoiding what we see, it’s to look at it and face it.” explains frontman Jake Taylor.
Kaliyuga brings an end to In Hearts Wake’s elemental saga: with previous albums Earthwalker, Skydancer and Ark representing earth, air, and water, respectively. While fire, to some, might not seem as connected to the natural world, for Taylor fire was the next logical step for the band’s music.
“Fire seems like the next necessary cliché. But without forcing it, it was just like, we have all of this fire happening around us and all of these fires within us about the shit we wanted to face. So, it felt really natural to be honest with you.” says Taylor.
But despite the aggressive connotation that comes from a record born of fire, Kaliyuga at its heart has a much more positive message of sustainability. The recording process behind the album was 100% carbon offset; a challenge that the band believed to be their responsibility in order to continue doing what they love while looking after our planet.
“A part of facing all of this stuff, as humanity is right now, is accountability; and with accountability comes looking at what we do. So, looking at what we do, we know what we want to be, but we’re driving with the handbrake on. We need to look at the engine, how are we operating? How are we doing things?” says Taylor.
We just had a lot of ignorance there in terms of not knowing that what we had on stage was very much a part of the problem, which is CO2 jets, things that we see go off. That’s just carbon dioxide.
[ Jake Taylor ]
“So, when it came to [Kaliyuga], it was always an experiment to say: ‘Hey, let’s calculate the power outlet. Let’s calculate how many lights we have. Let’s check out the driving miles. Let’s check out what kind of fuel we’re putting in the car. Let’s look at the airplane, let’s look at the freight of the guitar strings and the drumsticks. And we got all that data. Then we put it into a carbon calculator with this woman who does this for a living. We were able to generate a carbon footprint, and we had no idea what that would be. We have no benchmark for this. I don’t even know if this has been done before with a band.” continues Taylor.
“So, it was all an experiment and it was all a journey. And it’s been an enlightening one to see that the less that we do, the less we have to calculate and therefore less is more.” continues Taylor.
An experiment indeed, but one that was necessary for the band. With the recent bushfires in California and here in Australia inspiring this new album, Taylor and his bandmates could see that something in the world needs to change–and where better to start than in your own backyard.
“Our records have always been holding the earth as part of the message. You could go back to Divination to see that it was always what we’ve cared about. We just had a lot of ignorance there in terms of not knowing that what we had on stage was very much a part of the problem, which is CO2 jets, things that we see go off. That’s just carbon dioxide. We hadn’t even drawn the lines yet to realise that.” says Taylor.
“The last record was a big turning point because we were doing all these marine debris campaigns. We were cleaning up beaches. We were pulling out a lot of plastic bottles where I could just see–that and cigarettes–were some of the big villains out there. Then you can’t help but have that beach clean-up, then walk into your backstage room or the backstage room of another band on our tour and see all these plastic bottles everywhere.”
In Hearts Wake’s passion for change is clear enough in Kaliyuga’s confronting lead single Worldwide Suicide, a heavy track with a heavier message. Following it up with the similarly environmentally charged Son of a Witch, Kaliyuga is shaping up to be one of the bands more thematically intense records–but how does brining the fire with these important tracks affect the recording process?
This may be our last record. This may be the first of many to come. I really don’t know.
[ Jake Taylor ]
“I think the energy was changed to create those tracks rather than the other way around. And the intensity–and passion–was there because, more than ever, this was a moment of us coming together from opposite parts of the world. I was living in America, the guys were here in Australia, [drummer Conor Ward] was in Sydney. We all came together from three different locations and it was a: ‘If we’re going to do this, let’s do it with intention and let’s do it because we love it. And let’s put it all into it as if it were the last record’. says Taylor.
While this new model of environmentally conscious music production is an inspiring model to see put into practice, it is certainly an experiment for Taylor and the band; and one that might not be sustainable.
“We are confident that the music is some of the best we have ever created. Reviews or public opinion aside. Sales may be non-existent in terms of our record being recycled and made in a lesser quantity. We don’t know if this is a sustainable model yet. We’re just doing our best to put that forward. So, depending on how this record goes, how the message is supported and how it is received by everyone will determine whether it’s sustainable to carry forward for the next record. This may be our last record. This may be the first of many to come. I really don’t know.” says Taylor.
For a band that carries such an important message into their music, we can only hope that Kaliyuga is the first of many. Taylor not only believes that a strong message is key for heavy bands like In Hearts Wake, but for all artists to put into their work.
Don’t be disheartened. This is a time to look in the mirror and to really face and unpack all of what is happening as an opportunity for growth, for adaptation and for us to evolve.
[ Jake Taylor ]
“Art in general, whether you’re a painter, you’re a filmmaker; I think there’s an opportunity here to do something. I mean, you’ve got to stand for it and believe in it, but something bigger than oneself, to see what is the message and why am I doing this? What is the intention behind it? So, I would encourage all bands, and all artists, to always look for those things and look for those intentions, because it really does matter at the end of the day.”
Another key obstacle that has affected Kaliyuga–particularly the production of music videos–is something that’s affecting the whole world: COVID-19. While recent restrictions have affected the production of the videos for Son of a Witch and Hellbringer, it hasn’t stopped them from delivering something that they’re proud of.
“It’s been an opportunity to look at new ways of doing things and it’s accepting that this is just the way it is. And rather than it being like, ‘oh I have to sacrifice’, or ‘this is going to be not as good as’, it’s kind of like: ‘What can I do that’s different?’ It hasn’t been easy navigating these things. But it makes us more diverse and better artists, I think, adapting.” says Taylor.
“And I would also say, state of the world that we’re in. Don’t be disheartened. This is a time to look in the mirror and to really face and unpack all of what is happening as an opportunity for growth, for adaptation and for us to evolve.” continues Taylor.
Looking in the mirror is exactly what Taylor and In Hearts Wake have done with Kaliyuga, and something they plan on continuing when they hit the road in support of the album (once it’s safe to do so).
“It’s all part of our journey of discovery. It is not going to be perfect. I’m going to say that right now. It is so problematic what we’re trying to achieve. It’s almost like you see the vision of where you want to be, but you just know that there’s a huge mountain and a huge obstacle in the way. It’s easier said than done to just climb it. We don’t even know if we have the gear to climb it, but there’s a will and there’s a desire to climb that mountain.” says Taylor.
That journey of discovery has led In Hearts Wake to creating a stunning new album, packed equally full of intensity and serenity; and one that captures the energy the band have always strived for.
“Certain things can happen in moments when you just give away yourself. So that was a huge difference and a huge change and more, just like a YOLO-ness to it, you know. Bringing that into it, that was a really wonderful thing, to get back that energy. That is what In Hearts Wake was founded upon.”
Welcome to the age of Kaliyuga.