“I think that everything is exactly as it should be,” Jake Taylor tells Apple Music of the way COVID-19 has affected the world in 2020 and, on a personal note, In Hearts Wake’s album release. The Australian metalcore band has always been deeply conscious of the world around them, focusing on themes of environmentalism, the human condition, and spirituality. “There was no mistake that ‘Worldwide Suicide’ came out the day that we all went into lockdown as a country—and that was scheduled months before. Now we're going back into lockdown as the record comes out.” The name Kaliyuga is, according to Hinduism, one of the four ages of life. “It was said to be the age that we would experience called ‘the dark age,’ because it's a very dense age,” Taylor says. “It's an iron age, the industrial revolution. And with that density comes themes such as having to face ourselves through destruction, disease, oppression, fear, strife, discord. It creates an imbalance, and it was said that we would no longer worship gods, but instead we would be worshipping the flesh and material things. While it sounds very negative to look at the current state of the world, it very much feels like we're having to face ourselves and what we have done as humankind. It is an opportunity now for growth and evolution.” Musically, too, there’s a lot of experimentation and growth on the Byron Bay group’s fifth album. “Risks and bold choices are where we feel the band needs to be at right now,” Taylor explains. “We need to make bolder moves, really. Because normal's not really serving anyone.” And while the metal band, known for their intense live shows, is having to approach this release without the prospect of touring, that also opens new opportunities to bring the metal community together—even if they’re apart. “I think our community needs this record in their bedrooms right now, as much as we need it in our lives too, as band members. Hopefully people can be moshing in their own rooms and getting the release and catharsis and the feeling that needs to be felt.” Below, Taylor delves into the stories and themes behind each track on the powerful Kaliyuga. Crisis “I was in New York City two weeks before the studio session began for Kaliyuga and the climate march was happening. I pulled out my phone with my voice recorder and I recorded Greta [Thunberg] addressing us. And that ended up just being the inspiration to create a track called ‘Crisis.’ That really is just the state of the world. She's an amazing symptom of how this whole conversation is now being birthed through this, at the time, 16-year-old girl, who should be in school, as society says. So it was a pretty amazing experience.” Worldwide Suicide “Other than the drums being tracked, this was done in a one-day session. The producer had me just running around the room with a handheld mic, just losing it, basically. It captured that performance and that experience of what ‘Worldwide Suicide’ meant, driving this message home. ‘Is this what we want? Is this what we're heading towards? Do we want this? No.’” Hellbringer “Sometimes you have to shout loudest to be served. It was inspired by picketers that we experienced in America, holding up signs [outside our concerts] that say, ‘God hates f**s.’ ‘Everyone's going to hell.’ Just distributing generalized statements which we don't agree with, and judging a book by its cover. Saying that we're sacrificing goats down in hell—it’s the opposite of what's going on. So this was a tongue-in-cheek bit of fun and a way to just say, ‘When it comes down to it, we’re people who are a voice for change, who enjoy what we do in a community that sticks together.’ If anything, we have so much to say because in a world with heavy things happening, heavy music has a place. It’s misunderstood as a genre overall, for the most part, in the mainstream.” Moving On “It’s the most joyous, melodic song on the record. It’s just about letting go what no longer serves us, returning to our roots, and remembering our way forward. We want it to be a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel for this whole period we've been in and having to roll out a record during COVID. I also touched on some lyrics that we'd written 10 years ago [on ‘Traveller’], but with a flip. The lyrics were, ‘I'll live my life on my own two feet, the road will never swallow me.’ And now it's ‘Still living in my life on my own two feet…’” Timebomb “‘Timebomb’ is just permission to release. Permission to be what you need to be to come to the space and to not hold it in and feel like you've got to be trapped in a cage. And a lot of these community shows are that catharsis, they are that release. So ‘Timebomb’ is a time bomb.” Son of a Witch “We’re looking at the witch burnings in the 17th century, looking at the oppression of the maternal. Looking at how the paternal have, as leaders, perhaps not steered us in the most harmonious direction, and now it is the age of the woman and the age of the maternal to really step into power. My mother, who's a tarot reader, hasn't conformed with the religious doctrines that were set out for her as a child. She went a different path. So this song really resonates with me.” Crossroads “My partner and I were at a crossroads, at the time, where we felt that she needed to stay in America to pursue acting and I had to come back to Australia knowing that this record was going to take up the next year of my life. And in 48 hours we conceived the idea to create a song and come into the studio, just her and I and the producer. We worked on these lyrics and how to tell this story: ‘Trading pines for palms and east for west/Giving everything you've got so I'm out of breath.’ The guys were pretty surprised when we showed it to them, because they had no idea we were doing it. They were like, ‘Whoa, this is different. Is it us?’ And that was why it was special, I think, because it was different.” Husk “The lyrics were inspired by our bassist, Kyle [Erich], who's singing on that track. He does carpet cleaning for his day job, and it often feels like a monotonous routine. It’s like, ‘Do I amount to this?’ It's quite a juxtaposition to being on stage. It inspired this character and this story of someone really questioning existence and taking a real internal look at themselves. It asks questions about what kind of routine and what kind of a life we want to live.” Nāgá “Nāga is a snake god. This is a transient into ‘Force of Life,’ which is about a vision quest I did—it’s four days in a circle with just water, and you sit out in nature with no human contact. It was a really full-on, powerful experience that I did in North America. Being in that circle and that baptism of fire, really throwing myself in the deep end was how Nāga, the snake, really set up the tribal and primal feeling that went into that track.” Force of Life “It's bringing it all back, that urgency and intensity to bring out the second chapter and close the record. During the vision quest, I really had to stand face to face with myself, between the void and everyone else. It’s just self-reflection and facing the greatest monster, which is the self.” Iron Dice “The boys were watching a lot of Westworld at the time, and looking at the themes and the symbolism. They came to the studio with that track, I fleshed out the lyrics and wrote my verses. We also watched Joker as inspiration, again, as a case study into existence and the human condition. And then I asked my stepdad, Randy [Reimann], who's in Massappeal—a band from the '80s and '90s. He’s in his fifties now, but I asked him to guest vocal the end. So he recorded that in my bedroom. And it was amazing to just hear the youth and the frustration come out in that performance. How many bands can say their dad is on a track? Everyone was like, ‘Whoa, man, that's your dad? That’s Randy?’ Like they were freaking out. Because he's really quiet and quite gentle and kind. Then on stage, he can unleash this side of himself that you just wouldn't expect.” Dystopia “If any track encapsulates Kaliyuga as an overarching topic or theme, it would be ‘Dystopia.’ It’s the dystopia that we're in. Lyrically, it's asking these big questions, addressing disinformation: ‘What is real and what is the lie? How can we see through it?’ It's quite an age we're living in, this digital age. I really feel like Kyle connected with what needed to be said and getting that out there, that intertwined with the enchanting guitars that Ben [Nairne] and Eaven [Dall] were able to weave in there. And with Conor [Ward]’s off-time drums. It was a cool collab, that piece.” 2033 “It is perhaps the most urgent track, as urgent as ‘Worldwide Suicide,’ and it really bookends this album. Climate scientists are saying that we have a window to act upon and the window is closing—we have until 2033. I don't want to get too prophetic or be doomsday prophesizing here, but it's kind of up to us. Do we want to see 2033 as abundance, and as a new dawn and a new way forward? Or do we want to let it be the iceberg that we're headed towards? That's really up to us. The last lyrics: ‘Will we ever learn, or will we just sit back and watch the world burn?’ I mean, that's the question. The question remains with us. We have to actually take action and feel empowered and inspired to do so as a society. It's quite a task we have as humankind.”

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