The British band Svalbard make supremely heavy music that doesn’t fit comfortably into any genre. It’s oceanic, crushing, often beautiful stuff that hasn’t yet gotten the attention it deserves. Svalbard tend to get called “hardcore punk,” but that definition doesn’t quite fit. Their songs are too long and majestic, and they’re recorded too cleanly. They integrate bits and pieces of post-rock and black metal, and they turn it all into something that could fill a stadium in an alternate dimension. So: Deafheaven-core? I don’t know. But whatever they’re doing, it rules.
Two years ago, Svalbard released a really great album called It’s Hard To Have Hope, and it would’ve passed me by completely if former Stereogum staffer Michael Nelson hadn’t recommended it enthusiastically. Today, they’ve announced plans to drop a new one called When I Die, Will I Get Better? in September. Lead single “Open Wound” is a towering, bruising six-minute onslaught about the horror of domestic abuse.
Frontwoman Serena Cherry growls, “With faraway eyes/ And solemn brow/ Climb on top/ And push your weight down.” The music has a striving-for-transcendence beauty, with all these airy synth lines, but it never quiet lets up. It sounds huge. This is a powerful and intense piece of music, and you can hear it below, via Kerrang!
In a statement, Cherry says:
As Carol Hanisch said, “the personal is the political,” and that’s a phrase I draw inspiration from, in the sense that inner turmoil and societal struggles are inextricably linked. When I’m talking about my hurt in the song, it’s a pain that isn’t just mine — but one felt by many who have also been exposed to domestic abuse.
With both this song, and the entire new album, it would have been impossible for me to write anything that wasn’t bleak; as I was suffering with an overwhelming bout of depression — the kind that completely obscures your perspective until you eat, sleep and breathe despair. In 2019, I wasn’t just haunted by the black cloud — I became the black cloud; and that permeated everything I did. Every lyric. Every note.
01 “Open Wound”
02 “Click Bait”
03 “Throw Your Heart Away”
04 “Listen To Someone”
05 “Silent Restraint”
06 “What Was She Wearing?”
07 “The Currency Of Beauty”
When I Die, Will I Get Better? is out 9/25 on Holy Roar.