Words by Rangi White
Days of uncertainty led up to last night, as Queensland faced another week of a potential lockdown occurring, and my fingers stayed firmly crossed ‘til the moment I joined the line-up outside the Tivoli for In Hearts Wake. (Thanks, Anastasia..) The cue stretching down Costin St was rather quiet at 5pm in the arvo…“out of practice” as one fellow metalhead put it, but those energy levels changed the moment we stepped inside and were greeted by Melbourne’s very own Drown This City.
Their anthemic post-hardcore exposé served as an exceptionally heavy warm up routine, however it would have been somewhat improved had ‘Matthew Bean’s (Bass/Vox) microphone worked for the first 4 pieces…such is the burden of the opening act… I’m surprised they made it so far in without the soundies noticing. Lead vocalist Alex Reade more than made up for it in her performance however, sliding effortlessly between her heart-wrenching melodies and ear-splitting screams to absolute avail, and the growing crowd showed their appreciation profusely. I’d advise anyone with a taste for atmospheric post-hardcore with a badass female front to look at their latest EP ‘Alpha//Survivor’.
Next came Gravemind, with an absolute buffet of polyrhythmic grooves and mind-boggling breakdowns to soothe the soul of any metallier with a rhythmic itch to scratch. The lead guitar work was very impressive in all of their songs, notably one section where a tapping refrain was played over a heavy breakdown in one of their slower, more atmospheric pieces (apologies to band and readers, I didn’t catch the name of the song) but it was played flawlessly. I’m currently listening to their debut album ‘Conduit’ to try and identify which song it was, I’d recommend whoever’s reading this do the same. I was irrevocably astounded by the vocals of Dylan Gillies-Parsons with hellish fry screams and gutturals dredged up from the pits of the underworld, his message of connectivity through self-acceptance and personal strength was clear and well conveyed by the intensity of their music.
It was at this point in the night that the crowd seemed to double in size, and it started to feel like I was at a real Tivoli show again. Sauntering onto the stage next were Thornhill, another Melbourne-ese metalcore act. These guys have a more contemporary sound behind them, with slightly poppier chord structures that made space for some impressive lead guitar work, a pleasure to witness live. Vocalist Jacob Charlton put on a stellar performance, he had the air of someone who knew what reaction he would elicit from the crowd, proven by the expression on his face as his own lyrics were sung back to him. I noted the comments of a few people around me who claimed Thornhill didn’t quite emulate the same intense onstage energy as the first two bands, though I suspect that was more to do with the more melodic style of their music and the fact that it was the first of two performances to be done that night – a symptom of Covid, if you will. Regardless, they still played to a very high calibre and my envy of the Melbourne heavy music scene grew a little more – go check out their album ‘Dark Pool’ for some melancholic metal-core magnificence.
The crowd was vibrating in anticipation at this point, as barely visible movement behind the raised curtain indicated what was to come next. The lights dimmed and everyone in the room was transported back to primary school as two stage crew wheeled out an ancient television on a stand, the kind you’d find in your average grade 4 classroom. Destructive images of terrible wastelands, ravaged by industry and heartbreaking scenes of environmental desolation from the newly released video of Worldwide Suicide began to play in front of us, and the song itself started emanating from behind the curtain.
“This is a warning…our house is on fire”
The curtain dropped, and the crowd exploded as In Hearts Wake did onto the stage, and it was on for young and old. Treating us with a few tracks from their newest album ‘Kaliyuga’ IHW played with the astonishing fervour they are well known for, and the masses heaved in responsive joy. They took an interesting moment throughout the set where Kyle Erich (Bass/Vox) pulled out a ukulele and threatened us all with a rendition of Wonderwall.
Thankfully spared from this fate, we instead heard a couple acoustic versions, including Waterborne …accompanied by a bubble machine onstage… over a smoke machine…that was a visual first for me!
I am hugely impressed by In Hearts Wakes consistent message about environmental justice, and it’s inspiring to see musicians with such a following using their level of success as a podium from which to spread this important moral. Lead vocalist Jake Taylor takes a moment to mention the importance of the time that were living in, the responsibility that sits on the shoulders of our current generation and how we transition from the patriarchal world of now into a liveable future, and the music they write reinforces the emotional brevity of this issue. The heaviness matched with the softness, the atmospheric production and the wild onstage energy they exude creates an emotional landscape of such intensity within the listener so as to match the importance of the lyrical content they herald, and that alone is enough to mark these guys as one of the most inspiring and influential musical acts in the world right now.
They closed the show with Hellbringer and it was a fitting finale, the first real mosh-pit id been a part of in so long…walking out of the Tivoli afterwards barely able to breathe or hold my neck straight felt so fucking good…an absolute experience. Thanks guys.
Thanks to UNIFIED Music Group