Enlarge Photo credit: Tim Birkbeck

Svalbard Unleash Hauntingly Aggressive New Song, “Open Wound”


British post-hardcore/metal outfit Svalbard have returned with a new album announcement, and a ferocious new single to go along with it.

Vocalist/guitarist (and MetalSucks contributor) Serena Cherry tells Kerrang! that the song is about “the emotional turmoil of domestic abuse,” born of both her own experiences and those around her, explaining:

“When I’m talking about my hurt in the song, it’s a pain that isn’t just mine – but one felt by many who have also been exposed to domestic abuse,” she explains. “It also raises the questions of why domestic abuse is still rife in society and how we can offer better support for victims.”

“With both this song and the entire new album, it would have been impossible for me to write anything that wasn’t bleak, as I was suffering with an overwhelming bout of depression. The kind that completely obscures your perspective until you eat, sleep and breathe despair. In 2019, I wasn’t just haunted by the black cloud – I became the black cloud, and that permeated everything I did – every lyric, every note.

“It’s interesting, because I have since been working on coping strategies and getting my mental strength back, and ‘Open Wound’ feels a bit like a postcard from the hardest time of my life. To have struggles about domestic abuse captured in a song feels so raw.

“Lyric writing has always been a source of catharsis for me, so I pointedly avoid going into it with preconceptions of what I should write about. I basically let whatever I’m feeling at the time pour out via my pen; and this time around I consciously didn’t put pressure on myself to stick to political topics just because we have become known for them as a band in previous albums. However, as [activist] Carol Hanisch said, ‘the personal is the political and that’s a phrase I draw inspiration from, in the sense that inner turmoil and societal struggles are inextricably linked.”

On a musical level, I’m already loving “Open Wound” after just one listen. The band has expanded their post-hardcore blueprint to include atmospherics, layered vocal harmonies, and even more hard-charging aggression. If someone asked “What would it sound like if members of Converge, Astronoid and Deafheaven formed a band?” I’d promptly point them in Svalbard’s direction. The production here knocks it out of the park too, at once big, boisterous and clear without going over the top.

When I Die, Will I Get Better? comes out on September 25 via Holy Roar; pre-order here.

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