Svalbard - When I Die, Will I Get Better? review

Bandcamp music player

28 users:
Band: Svalbard
Album: When I Die, Will I Get Better?
Release date: September 2020

01. Open Wound
02. Click Bait
03. Throw Your Heart Away
04. Listen To Someone
05. Silent Restraint
06. What Was She Wearing?
07. The Currency Of Beauty
08. Pearlescent

The dead know what they're doing when they leave this world behind.

Svalbard joins the ever-growing list of artists I wish I saw at Roadburn Festival and I got into them only after the fact. Having been part of the Holy Roar special stage, and supposed to release this album through what used to be that label, until the label got MeToo-ed and now Svalbard are the first band to come on what was formed out of the ex-employees of the old label, Translation Loss Records. Thus the same level of quality of the seal of approval can be expected from their releases too from now on, and if any familiarity with the old roaster can attest to it, is that Svalbard are here to deliver some emotional alternative music. In this case, post-hardcore.

The hardcore element is mostly felt in the vocals, with the instrumentation ranging between alt rock and post-rock, the very bright and emotionally cathartic kind. These elements seem even more prominent than on previous Svalbard records, even if there are still enough heavy moments to ground it to the post-hardcore world. It's just that you're more likely to hear some blistering tremolo picking instead of chugs and breakdowns. And for a record to put that much stake in how melodic and emotional it sounds, it better have some emotion in its song to make up for it, lest it would sound cheesy. And yeah, songs like "Listen to Someone" and "What Was She Wearing?" definitely have a lot of relevance, the latter especially considering what happened to the ex-label.

You're more likely to find songs that leave most of the hardcore behind for clean vocals and slowcore instrumentals, like the aforementioned "What Was She Wearing?", than the other way around. I can't say that I would have minded having one or two bludgeoning hardcore tracks, but the album is consistent in its tones and moods, and the larger alternative palette is definitely put to good use. In a lot of ways it sounds a lot like those blackgaze records that plagues most of last decade, except that this time it's quite clear that the "black" part never really had much "black metal" in the first place, but something closer to all those developments that hardcore had in the 90s. Nor is the "gaze" part just shoegaze. In the end, it's a mix of 90s music re-contextualized for new decade.

And at its less than 40 minutes runtime, When I Die, Will I Get Better? is short, emotional, bittersweet and relevant.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Written on 07.10.2020 by My opinion is objective, sorry if you don't agree, but you're wrong.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 38 users
08.10.2020 - 18:00
Concur completely with this review, great album.
"Nullum unquam exstitit magnum igenium sine aliqua dementia [there was never great genius without some madness]."
09.10.2020 - 16:47
Such a good band and a great record. When I first heard the couple of songs they release I missed the neocrust/d-beat thing they had in some of their songs but the atmosphere and songwriting completely makes up for it!
09.01.2021 - 18:42
Click Bait is a nice track.
In the beginning I was made of clay. Then I bit the apple and they changed me to metal 🤘

Hits total: 952 | This month: 41