It’s Hard to Have Hope. Indeed it is, Bristol-based crust/hardcore quartet Svalbard. Indeed it is. From revenge porn and unpaid internships to pro-life campaigners, the group take square aim at the injustices of such controversial topics in a heavy, dramatic and deeply frustrated bunch of cathartic outbursts.
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Not a second of ‘It’s Hard to Have Hope’ is wasted. Dropping the ball a sum total of zero times on their way to following up the intense and overwrought post-metal of ‘One Day This Will All End’, Svalbard pitch a furious political checklist of a record, one that sees Serena Cherry scream out experiences of being a woman in metal scenes and far beyond. It’s what you’d expect from Svalbard ‘til you scroll down that lyrics sheet.
The poetry is stark: taking up the direct, diaristic approach of political hardcore bands, Her lyrics stand as evocative questions and mantras about pro-lifers, revenge porn, sexual harassment at shows, misogyny and working without pay. You might think the themes a bit earthy, a bit real, for a band like this; their emotive riffs, punched up distortion and melodic breakdowns usually offer something like high fantasy, but through this tradition of high-stakes, Cherry’s lyrics are given a vitality, growing in power and poignancy.
With things a little more overt, less clouded in cacophony and metaphor, Svalbard have crafted the year’s most painful musical sting, a record that demands justice through from a corner of the music world often dismissive of it. It’s a huge record of rolling, crusty riffs and shuttering drums, a harsh and melodic triumph typical of their short existence. Beyond the usual things we'd use to describe their sound, though -- the dynamism and emo of it all -- is a series of devastating statements.
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- It's Hard To Have Hope by Svalbard
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