Review Summary: Dances in the sky too much and could use a bit of grounding.
In Hearts Wake really
seem to have a thing for nature. After all, the Australian metalcore outfit’s previous release, Earthwalker
, was a loose concept record centered around the damage mankind was doing to the earth. Their follow-up, Skydancer
, follows in a similar vein. In fact, it’s a bit too similar. Despite insinuating that the two records would be counterparts to each other in tone, there really isn’t that much difference between the two. Both records feature a generic metalcore songwriting formula, spiced with a knack for implementing ethereal melodies into the mix to freshen up the sound. One could put this to the fact that both albums were recorded around the same time period, with the second part only to be released more than a year later. Skydancer
proves to be, more or less, a second version of the previous album with about the same level of quality.
kicks off on a fairly strong note, after a vaguely useless intro, with the title track. It serves to highlight the band’s formula and does it adequately. Competent harsh vocals carry the riffier verses into the usual clean sung choruses. As was the case with Earthwalker
, it’s the moments when the band goes for a more atmospheric approach, rather than the usually whiny clean singing, that makes the songs shine. The title track’s bridge serves to be more interesting than the actual chorus oddly enough. Lead off single “Breakaway” proves to be one of the weakest tracks, with uninteresting instrumentals and one of the more grating choruses. Some tracks, like “Badlands” and “Cottonmouth”, focus too much on the classic metalcore chug-a-lugs for their own good, but the melodic pieces like “Insomnia” keep things more interesting. The album maintains a fairly steady level of quality after a few weak early songs, but one of the more vexing pieces, “Erase”, appears in the back half to rock the boat. A perplexing appearance from the dual front men of rap/djent band Hactivist is odd enough, especially after the misplaced rap they lay down, but the influence carries over into the next song as well. While the former track sounds more like a Hactivist song that an In Hearts Wake one, the latter is picked up a bit with the band’s true colors shining and a pleasant appearance from Northlane vocalist Marcus Bridge.
In Hearts Wake lack something in innovation which will keep most from being truly surprised by Skydancer
. The ethereal atmospherics they lay down are more or less a front to cover the genericism that too often lies beneath, but if it is a front, well it’s a pleasant one. In a similar way, the great songs on the album are too often masked by lesser ones that keep the whole from reaching greater heights. Yet as it stands, Skydancer
is still a competent outing from a band with a good bit of veiled promise.