WORDS: LUCA CESCON

If you are not into Svalbard, you are probably missing one the best heavy bands in the game, and actually one of the best contents-delivery act in the modern era of metal music. What’s even harder is to limit their music as metal, or their message to a specific social purpose. This Bristol-based band has always delivered its own message and its own music, which goes from post-hardcore to post-rock, from hardcore to black metal, without stopping adding something new in every record, showing an inner interest in putting their passion and ideas first. The band is back with a new record called When I Die, Will I Get Better, that was supposed to be released via Holy Roar Records before the allegations against Alex Fitzpatrick came to light. Svalbard’s new full length was released by Church Road Records, a UK label based in Woking.

“As someone suffering with depression, the question: ‘will I die, will I get better?’ related to the undeniable thoughts of dying being a way out of mental illness. Dying as a cure. Death as escape option...”

“The album name is taken from a book I spotted in a museum in London. The more I thought about it, the more meaning I attached to it. As someone suffering with depression, the question: ‘will I die, will I get better?’ related to the undeniable thoughts of dying being a way out of mental illness. Dying as a cure. Death as escape option. It’s also about death in a more philosophical sense of social change – the need for sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes to die. When horrible right wing ideologies die – things will get better”, explains Serena. The artwork itself has different meaning and it is not linked to the band’s previous works: “with this album artwork, the stag represents the fragility of feeling preyed upon, whilst the autumnal colours represent the underlying themes of both personal and political change which run throughout the record”, underlines Serena. As explained above, Svalbard usually speak about lots of important topics in their records, and When I Die, Will I Get Better? is no exception.

“On this record we have songs about domestic abuse, the dehumanization of dating apps, how to support people suffering from depression, the way women are written about in the music press … As usual, lots of specific topics that I have experienced first-hand which also have wider social implications”

“On this record we have songs about domestic abuse, the dehumanization of dating apps, how to support people suffering from depression, the way women are written about in the music press … As usual, lots of specific topics that I have experienced first-hand which also have wider social implications”, explains Serena. We asked Serena to highlight some of her favourite artists and records, in order to have an even clearer view of Svalbard’s way of composing and creating music. “For me personally it’s Jeremy Soule, who composed the soundtrack to the game Skyrim. I love the rousing, bittersweet nature of his melodies – I am always searching for that same feeling when I play guitar. I am largely influenced by soundtracks, the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto is another huge influence on my guitar leads as his work has such an emotive quality – he conjures so much feeling from a few simple progressions. The rest of the guys like all kinds of stuff ranging from Mew to Discordance Axis to Cattle Decapitation. We all have varied musical taste which helps keeps things interesting when we write music together”.

In conclusion, we talked with Serena about how the world Svalbard have always written music and lyrics about – a world with discriminations and violence – could be helped by music: “where words fail, music speaks. I can say so much more when I’m screaming in a band than I can in real life. Music is a liberating way of expressing the frustrations of living in a politically fucked-up world, it is my outlet and my source of healing – and I believe, music is a source of changing the world for the better”.

When I Die, Will It Get Better? Is out now via Church Road Records

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