Having bemoaned the vague angst that plagues metal, the new album from Svalbard harnesses the aggression of heavy music to get several urgent messages across. How do we stop sexual assault? Is it wrong to buy designer dogs? Is it okay to use the word ‘Feminazi?’ These are the kind of questions their songs pose, with the aim to generate discussion and change through music.
Hard-hitting. That’s the only way to describe this fearless second album. There’s no poetry. No ambiguity. Just direct, raw honesty as the Bristolian quartet tackle some very uncomfortable subjects head on; with sexual harassment, revenge porn and the exploitation of unpaid internships being a few of their targets. “Where is protection for the women?” screams Serena Cherry, while the band plunge into a cacophonous melancholic finale. This is heavy in the most evocative sense of the word. Certainly, an album where the blunt lyrics are equally as important as the music.
Oh yeah, the music. Whilst refining their distinctive blend of euphoric black metal, post rock and d-beat, Svalbard have incorporated a few more surprising influences along the way this time. From soft, mournful singing to (dare we say) progressive guitar leads, It’s Hard To Have Hope showcases a sensitive dynamic that lends impact to its most crushing moments – of which there are undoubtedly many.