Describing the sound of Svalbard in a few words is a challenge, given their diverse musical influences since forming in 2011. They've ventured into black metal, post-rock, d-beat, shoegaze, hardcore, and post-metal. Despite defying genre conventions, one word that consistently characterizes the British quartet is "unique."
Svalbard initially spent their formative years performing at DIY shows, releasing three EPs, and refining their musical identity. In 2015, they released their debut album, One Day All This Will End. Since then, the band has maintained relentless momentum, releasing two more albums while continuously refining their extensive range of musical inspirations, drawing from sources as varied as video game soundtracks, grindcore, and dream pop, all woven into a distorted yet dynamic sonic tapestry.
However, their uniqueness isn't limited to musical experimentation. Svalbard is also known for their candid exploration of mental illness. Their 2020 album, When I Die Will I Get Better, delved deep into this subject, prompting questions about how they could follow up such a profound work created during one of the darkest periods of their lives.
Enter their latest album, The Weight of the Mask. It doesn't offer an easy, Disney-esque resolution to their struggles. The album acknowledges that depression doesn't simply vanish; it lingers, evolves, and grows. But it's a beast that Svalbard no longer fears. If the previous record was about confronting inner demons, this album is about battling them with unwavering determination.
Crafted in their frigid rehearsal space in Bristol, the album wasn't without its challenges. The pressure to follow up their successful fourth album weighed heavily on them, leading to an exceptionally meticulous approach to songwriting. They leaned on producer Lewis Johns, who understands the balance between the heaviness and beauty in Svalbard's sound, creating an environment where the band could channel their deepest emotions into their recordings.
With their fourth album in the books, Svalbard continues to ascend, not only as a standout force in the metal world and part of the thriving modern British metal scene but also as advocates for mental health awareness.
1. Faking It
2. Eternal Spirits
5. Lights Out
6. How To Swim Down
7. Be My Tomb
8. Pillar In The Sand
9. To Wilt Beneath The Weight