Svalbard - It's Hard to Have Hope
Translation Loss Records
Atmospheric Hardcore / Punk
8 songs (37'38")
Release year: 2018
Translation Loss Records
Reviewed by Alex

By listening to Svalbard I had to peel off a set of preconceived notions, one by one, as It’s Hard to Have Hope unfolded. Even before playing a note, the moniker Svalbard itself hinted at something Scandinavian, maybe Norwegian to be specific. After all that is where a lot of European hardcore comes from, not Bristol, UK, the place Svalbard calls home. Then, having accepted Svalbard origins, and not thinking of British reserved nature anymore, the opener Unpaid Intern breathed hardcore punk, larynx ripping and disturbing, melodically dense and non-settling, even for moment, with its certain atmospheric aura ever rising throughout the song. Prepared now to listen to what I expected to hear from Martyrdod or Wolfbrigade, where their hardcore punk stems as an extension of melodic death metal and grindcore, Svalbard took proceedings in the different direction, hinting at different quality at the end of Unpaid Intern, but fully exploring it later. To be clear, Feminazi still has punk rhythms to start, but begins its double bass pummeling at some point, and For the Sake of the Breed is full of pure punk debauchery, then sees itself collapsing breathlessly before finding strength to carry on until protracted cosmic aura breakdown.

At the same time, despite rich UK punk culture, it is difficult for me to call Svalbard hardcore punk, discounting quiet female vocals settling moments at the beginning of Revenge Porn or Pro-Life or Try Not to Die Until You Are Dead. If anything, after these temporary and fleeting chances to escape, Svalbard plunges into neurotic Neurosis (pun intended) moments (Revenge Porn), clamoring for something desperate. Whatever you want to call Svalbard stylistically, it is this feeling of atmospheric anxiety which characterizes the album most completely. Death metal or grindcore related (Feminazi), or dense walls building atop d-beat, rushing upward seeking both light and air coming as if from suffocating depths (How Do We Stop It), It’s Hard to Have Hope is full of authentic nervousness and unease, be it the state of mind or state of politics, something Svalbard is not afraid to talk about.

Not your biggest hardcore fan, when closing argument Lorek was done, I certainly felt impressed and buoyed by It’s Hard to Have Hope, enough to go and re-listen to the tracks I felt to be most captivating after a first listen. Always a good sign for me when the album is not the style I listen to often.

Killing Songs :
Unpaid Intern, Pro-Life, How Do We Stop It
Alex quoted 79 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Tue May 15, 2018 8:28 am
View and Post comments