Underground Sounds: Svalbard – It’s Hard to Have Hope

Label: Holy Roar
Artist: Svalbard
Origin: United Kingdom

The fourpiece Svalbard has been around for a bit. Named after the frozen, Norwegian island far up north, the band plays what can be best described as post-metal or post-hardcore, yet their whole concept seems to resonate with the wavering spirit of the punk and hardcore community as they brazenly touch upon the topics of this time and age on ‘It’s Hard to Have Hope’.

This is the second full length by the English group, who originate from Bristol. Their sound is a rich tapestry of black metal, hardcore and some crust and post influences, which creates something that is full of vitality, but also complex and layered in its own right.

Have you ever worked as an ‘Unpaid Intern’? Because Svalbard has you anthem now. Furious screams and ascending melodies with a deep-rooted frustration behind them launch at you with ferocity. Pretty much sticking to that, the song ‘Revenge Porn’ is as visceral and essential as the opener, with lyrics that are as straightforward and direct as you can get. The beauty is that there is no accusation, no closed statement, but open questions and ideas conveyed in the song. In that lies its very power.

Let’s not forget that hardcore traditionally is hardline opinions and Svalbard in that sense makes you think. You don’t need to be idealistically aligned with the band to gain some wisdom from their songs. On ‘Feminazi’ the position is slightly more forceful, while the music takes on a more melodic an driven sound. Yet, there’s so much explanation and context given, this is a musical dialogue with any opponent. It puts the record in a very different light for me, which demands respect.  The feel of their sound is much like More Than Life and Touché Amoré to me. Full of feeling and excitingly melodic, a great piece of music to really get your heart beating a bit faster and gain some purpose.

The energy is infectious, while the passion is almost tangible on this record. It defines the relevance of hardcore, even today in a world that doesn’t seem to hold its breath for 2 seconds, whatever comes their way. Svalbard nails it.

 

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