Svalbard – The Weight Of The Mask (post hardcore, shoegaze)
There have been a few pretty uninspiring release weeks previously, but this is the first week since I took over this column that I actually feel like, on balance, the world is possibly at a net loss for having this particular collection of new albums in it—and that's not including all the truly woeful releases I cut out entirely. It's a ridiculous thing to say, and I'm definitely in one of my Moods™ again, but it's been a rough one, to the point that I'm even hesitant to fully recommend this album, even though it's very clearly a cut (or many) above the rest.
It's definitely not my preferred genre, but as far as shoegazy (and extra post-y) post hardcore goes, England's Svalbard are by far the best at it. My problem with The Weight of the Mask is the same one I had with fellow Heavy Blog favourites Harm's Way last week: that while each of the album's offerings are staggering in isolation, as a whole I find it all a bit oppressive and rather monotonous. The post/atmospheric/gaze genres are meant to be lush and dynamic, but often I find they lock themselves into a rigid tonal register that renders them rather one-dimensional overall. As one offs, the songs on The Weight of the Mask are instantaneously elating, put in succession though and you (or I at least) begin to notice just how similar and interchangeable the shoegaze melodies are, and how little the tempos deviate from an overwhelming barrage of BPM. The production this time around also feels less dynamic than on Svalbard's previous outings, so that the record as a whole winds up sounding rather toppy without any of the real bottom-end its rhythmic sections seem to imply and sorely needed to balance out everything else.
Anyway, as I said, this kind of sound really isn't my thing, and the individual songs themselves are undeniably well crafted. I'm sure many of you will enjoy this far more than me, so I'm going to stop harshing your mellow and go listen to the new Unearth album again.
Akasha/Byyrth – Split (black metal)
Alltid Allena – Mourning Skies (post black metal)
Anime Torment – Just A Carcass (deathcore)
Another Day Dawns – Finding Peace Through All The Noise (alt rock, nu metal)
Apotheus – Ergo Atlas (prog metal, butts rock)
Aries Field – Capsizing The Horizon (alt metal)
Auriferous Flame – Ardor For Black Mastery (black metal)