Hardcore is the kind of genre where it’s sometimes hard to get the energy of a live set across in a recording, and anything that sounds ambitious or difficult to stage live will struggle to be good in a gig. There’sa balance to be struck, and sometimes it takes time to work out how to get that across. This is probably why we’ve been waiting almost two years since EP ‘Gone Tomorrow’ to get the debut album from Svalbard. ‘One Day All of This Will End’ has got a good sense of how the songs will sound live as well as how they were written, and it’s clear that their live work has given them a solid ground to build on.
The first thing that you notice here is there’s an energy and momentum that drives this record, and makes the anger expressed on many tracks feel more of a focused and productive outlet than a primal scream. ‘Perspective’ opens with the trembling guitar part which stumbles out with trepidation, before the drums and the vocals unleash hell. When the breakdown comes in it’s a welcome relief, but as the vocal screams ‘One day your life will suffer the fates&rsqo;, you get the sense divine retribution is coming. It’s followed up by the similarly paced ‘Disparity’, which tramples like a stampede. The rhythms and pulsing fast riffing guitars are reminiscent of Circle takes the Square here, but it still has the distinct feel of a British band. In the vocal parts of ‘Disparity’ and ‘Expect Equal Respect’, we get some bold statements about acceptance within a scene where people put so much of their inner demons on show. This seems incredibly relevant within hardcore where sometimes it feels hypocritical in how respect is offered to male band members but not the ardent female fans.
There are quieter moments on tracks like the slow burning ‘The Vanishing Point’ and album closer ‘Lily’.The latter of which feels like it could wander off into a dreamy post-rock daze, something Explosions In The Sky or Caspian might come up on a chilled evening jamming together, the swell of it crashing down and obliterating everything that comes before. ’The Vanishing Point’ conversely, builds to a tightly wound nucleus of rapid guitars and abrasive textures that threatens to rip itself to shreds even as it reaches its peak.
The whole thing is coherent and throws up plenty of interesting ideas, alongside energy that feels boundless, but can be reined in when needed. From the trepidation of ‘Disparity’ through to the calm closing chords of ‘Lily’, this is a great debut album, and worth the wait.
‘One Day All This Will End’ by Svalbard is out now on Holy Roar Records.
Words by Heather Robertson (@thecuriosity)