In Hearts Wake (IHW) is a five-piece metalcore band from Byron Bay, formed in 2006, with a unique flair for environmental activism. Their current tour is a celebration of their feature-length documentary GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK, which explores the band’s journey to create their world-first, certified carbon-neutral album Kaliyuga in 2020.
The documentary, released in May this year, discusses the music industry’s relationship to the environment, the carbon emissions involved in touring, and the journey of IHW to create a way to produce 100% carbon offset music. In 2021, the band themselves became a certified carbon neutral organisation by the Australian Government initiative Climate Active, and set a new precedent for the environmental standard of the industry.
Across their production of Kaliyuga, the band logged carbon emissions produced by their air and land travel, electricity used to produce and record the album, and all other resources involved — including their food. In total they accrued 26.37 carbon dioxide equivalent tonnes of emissions. Investing in the Yarra Yarra Biodiversity Corridor — a high density reforestation project to create a 200km long ‘green corridor’ inland from the Western Australian coast — the heavy-metal outfit was able to completely offset the album’s emissions.
Tenacity for climate action is a common thread throughout not only IHW’s five-album discography, but also their live performances. Last week their show at USyd’s Manning Bar was true to form as the words “this is an emergency, our house is on fire” boomed over the speakers to open the act, with lead singer Jake Taylor donning a “NO MUSIC ON A DEAD PLANET” t-shirt. Opening with ‘Worldwide Suicide’ off Kaliyuga, spliced with elements of low tonal death metal and dark melodies, it is a thrashing wake-up call about the state of the environment that ripped open the show.
They swung into ‘Timebomb’ off the same album, and soon after dipped into ‘Breakaway’ off their 2015 album Skydancer. In 2016 IHW teamed up with their Australian heavy brothers Northlane for their Equinox tour which featured Skydancer. It was remarkable to witness their development from seeing them perform to a huge audience at Luna Park’s Big Top when I was 15, to experiencing the intimacy of their performance at Manning Bar at age 22. It is undeniable that IHW has only refined their craft and honed their skills, which they are putting on display across a series of raging regional Australian shows this month.
A standout of their show came when they performed their recent Triple J Like a Version cover of ‘all the good girls go to hell,’ a song about environmental destruction and climate change by Billie Eilish. IHW’s rendition was naturally packed with swirling synths and crashing breakdowns, accompanied by the band’s trademark sonic sounds of Taylor’s melodic yet dark vocals.
The show also featured opening act performances by Australian bands RedHook, Pridelands and Banks Arcade. The latter played a surfeit of songs off their newest album Future Lovers, including ‘Freaks’ which was evocative of early 2010s Amity Affliction. The four-piece band also displayed some slow soulful songs off their 2020 EP Fever Dreams, including ‘Drown’ which served as a refreshing change of pace and breather in an otherwise full-on setlist.
Supporting nu-metal act RedHook was similarly energetic, and with Emmy Mack as their lead vocalist they brought their own unique sound to Manning which was an undeniable stand-out — Mack also notably went to USyd. The Sydney band played their smash-hit song ‘Kamikaze’ which set the crowd off in a high-tempo frenzy of movement and moshing.
All in all, the night was a formidable culmination of Australian metal, representing veterans of the scene In Hearts Wake and newcomers alike. It is gratifying to see the progression of IHW both socially and politically through the continuation of their environmental activism throughout their career. Manning Bar was lucky to witness these hard hitters of the industry, and to celebrate their new status as carbon-neutral music makers.