Invent Animate are a band that is no stranger to change, evolution, and adaptation. While never straying far from their progressive metalcore roots, a side-by-side comparison of the 2014 debut Everchanger with the band’s current material reveals a slow and steady refinement and fine tuning of sound, ever so slowly creeping their way towards what one could call their final form in 2023. Even facing one of the hardest challenges a young metalcore band can face with the departure of founding vocalist Ben English, it seems the band has come out on top, and new vocalist Marcus Vik has now firmly established himself within the band’s sound.
With a career that has always been on the upwards trajectory in terms of sheer quality of output, it is no surprise that Invent Animate’s 2023 full length Heavener has been very anticipated by the metalcore community for quite some time. While 2020’s Greyview did its duty in proving Invent Animate were back in the game following overwhelming obstacles, their next record would prove what kind of staying power the band truly has, and if they will rise to the top of modern metalcore greatness. So, therein lies the question: where does Heavener leave Invent Animate on this totem pole of an extremely oversaturated genre of music? Well, if you’re not paying attention already, then this record will certainly be an enormous wake up call.
Heavener shows us a side of Invent Animate that has truly mastered their craft and found themselves as a band. To put it bluntly, this album is so overwhelmingly great that it feels as if their entire career up to this point was simply build up. Every challenge the band has faced has culminated into an album that will be very hard to top for the band, and an album that should put this band on the radar of every single person who has ever even remotely enjoyed the genre of metalcore.
This record is sonically ethereal, painting soaring soundscapes that make you feel like you are floating in the clouds, whilst occasionally dropping you harshly into open sky. Invent Animate leans on all of their strengths, delivering their signature formula in their most refined manner yet, all whilst occasionally tossing a wrench into the mix with well placed experimentation and trial. The band tread new ground when necessary, but isn’t afraid to further improve upon all of the things that have always made them a great band.
The record opens with powerful, emotive chugs on the hauntingly rainy Absence Persistent, showcasing gloomy melodies alongside pummeling, bottom-heavy metalcore riffage that the band is known for. The album catalyses at top quality, and almost never lets up or falters in its entire 46-minute runtime. The heavier Shade Astray further ceases your ability to breathe, with pummeling, drop-F guitars and apocalyptic breakdowns.
If there is one thing the band is great at, it’s writing a “signature Invent Animate” style song, and there’s plenty present all over this record. Labyrinthine is devastatingly heavy from note one, opening with a chaotic, finger-twisting intro riff that instantly engraves itself into every corner of your brain. This is one of the most well-written cuts on the whole record, complete with two massive, face-punching breakdowns that prove how an excellent ambient guitar lead can amplify an already great section into something incredibly memorable. Elsewhere, Void Surfacing also proves to be a fantastic example of a soundscape that you would expect to hear from Invent Animate, with staccato chugs dancing side by side in perfect harmony with wailing technical lead melodies.
However, this isn’t to say the band doesn’t throw in some curveballs here and there in the tracklisting. The truly great thing about the swings in Heavener is that they are all hits, with the band never once treading into territory that feels unfitting for the band. The level of quality here is top notch, with the band stepping in occasional new waters, only to strike gold in the process.
The three-song stretch of False Meridian, Reverie, and Immolation Of Night sees the band dipping their toes into new territory in massively different ways on each cut, all whilst maintaining a great core sound. False Meridian proves to be one of the best songs on the whole record, relying much more on bounce and groove than technicality and complexity. The tug-of-war structure of the song gives you a perfect back and forth of spacious ambience and pounding heaviness that proves to be an unbeatable blend in the overall whole of the record. Immediately following, the soaring ballad that is Reverie sees the band taking a step back in the guitar-driven front, swapping their typical leading instrument for warm synths and gorgeous falsetto singing. If you weren’t already sold on vocalist Marcus Vik’s massively impressive singing capabilities, this song will take care of that. The final cut of the aforementioned trio, Immolation Of Night, see’s the band take a step into the complete opposite direction of the previous song, reading subdued synths for laughably heavy chugging and ominous, tapping leads. This is easily the heaviest song the band has written to date, and instantly proves how great this band can be at writing more chaotic tracks.
However, the most glaring example of experimentation on Heavener is the album’s massive penultimate song Emberglow. More akin to a Deftones-y Loathe cut than the band’s usual Northlane-core style, Emberglow is emotive in a different, unique way, almost feeling nostalgic in tonality. The atmosphere sends you endlessly floating through the cosmos, all leading up to a cathartic breakdown finale that feels like the end credits to a sad movie.
This album hits a home run on every swing, whether it be an experiment or a more comfortable sound for the band. There is a level of consistency that is present over the course of the tracklist, with every single song providing some sort of purpose as to the overall flow of the record. It’s incredibly well put together from a songwriting perspective, and never once stumbles or hiccups.
I would be remiss not to mention the magnificent standout that is Purity Weeps as well, which proves to be a wonderfully well-written highlight on what is already a great record. The band tricks you into thinking you’re getting a relatively straightforward Invent Animate track with the song’s opening technical metalcore riffage, before dropping you into a heart-stoppingly gorgeous falsetto-only chorus that shines as one of the best moments on the entire record. Not only is the instrumentation top notch, but this song is also Marcus Vik’s best performance to date with the band, absolutely stealing the show on all fronts. One thing is for certain: this song will absolutely be a fan favourite come album release.
Heavener is a powerful punch on all fronts, solidifying Invent Animate’s firm footing in the vast, expansive world of modern metalcore. While the genre is certainly oversaturated by what seems like a million mediocre Architects rip-off bands, Invent Animate takes the capabilities that this blended genre possesses to the next level, shining as a beacon of what a truly great progressive metalcore band should sound like. The band has always been great, that’s no secret at all; however, Heavener sees the band reaching their final form stylistically, culminating into an experience that is consistently fantastic, diverse, and extremely well-written. If the fate of Invent Animate was ever in question, it absolutely is not now. The band is here to stay, and stay on the fucking top.
For fans of: Northlane, Currents, Architects
‘Heavener’ by Invent Animate is released on 17th March on UNFD.
Words by Hunter Hewgley