Svalbard (and special guests) gig review Melbourne. What an incredible gig. Words-Mark J. and Pics-Dan McKay.


Svalbard (and special guests) gig review Melbourne. What an incredible gig. Words-Mark J. and Pics-Dan McKay.

Svalbard, @Howler Melbourne May 26, 2024.
What an absolutely stunning gig anytime, let alone a Sunday for the finale gig of the UK's elite new artists of the last ten years, Svalbard on their debut Australian tour. The venue is certainly one of our fair city's finest and to match this was a sublime lineup; free from the generic let's throw support bands together that all sound the same. This was a very curated and clever lineup, as was the case for the whole tour including the brilliant Halo of Teeth, Wicked Sisters and Blind Girls in other states. But this gig was the cherry on top of a mouthwatering cake.


We at this zine adored their debut album Doomsday Still Bleeds Red when it dropped earlier this year; an absolute Neo-Crust classic and this band always destroys on the live front.

Front forward aggressive, yet progressive hardcore punk with a message; the performance was tight with acidic riffs for days, a bombastic rhythm section and one of the best vocalists in hardcore.
Political messages were a perfect match for the intensity of the music and Nettle was engaging as always, a band should make you move and more so make you think/question the powers that be as well as look at important issues like the environment and racism.

The set heavily drew from the debut album and every track was a highlight-pure unrelenting stadium crust that was hard-hitting, hectic and utterly crushing.

Kudos to the venue, because as a general rule, every band on a bill should get a stellar mix and Encierro sounded like they were playing a massive stadium. The core whilst being crusty as fuck, is based on an emotive tone that is hellishly dynamic and this was evidenced by the crowd who were impressed and frankly blown away.

Catch this phenomenal band whenever you can and support them by buying merch/music:

In Throes

As I mentioned, the magnificent curation on hand-picking the bands for this hulking lineup was executed superbly again with In Throes's grim and apocalyptic post-metal.

This was my first experience with this impeccable band from Hobart and fuck me dead, they were like Amenra crossed with Neurosis/Cult of Luna. The core of the band is dissonant, grisly atmospheric post-metal with refined sludge and black metal influences.

The overall combination of every skilled player is immense in its delivery, which shows in the sheer weight of the music; which is equally fatiguing and overwhelming. I strive for this in any band.

This band hasn't been around for long, but this live set made me eagerly crave their debut album in the future. Their set builds as it drives along, chipping away bits of your psyche as it develops and boils. The simmering effect seems to build into a harsher and more abrasive soundscape as it reaches its domineering crescendo. 

In Throes are a super-experienced bunch of gifted musicians who perform with laser-like precision, creating a memorable and scintillating cathartic show for the lucky listeners.

Like Encierro before them, In Throes demands all the acclaim and attention because they produce some of the country's most original and unique heavy music.


Did you think this monumental gig would dip in quality or heaviness, how could you be so ridiculous. RUN is the band led by Lochlan Watt, who indeed is high profile in the extreme music community; be it fronting killer bands, running a resplendent radio show or running band tours.

But the legit kudos are there because this guy is one of the hardest-working people in the industry; he has endured his own health battles and now leads one of the fiercest bands.RUN is an exalted melting pot of black metal, old-school metalcore and belligerent post-metal.

Their current EP-True Heaviness Is Time is a splendid release and we will interview Lochlan and review this brilliant EP. RUN's show is all about dark and visceral audio desolation. It's easy to assume a band of experienced players simply come out and hammer you with brutality, RUN does this and so, so much more. The metalcore foundation ensures that each song has a sense of cacophonous melody, and dissonant harmony and tells an epic story with each song. 

Part of the joy of watching this ingenious band performing is how in sync and fused they are with each other as though the band have been playing together as a unit for over ten years. Flawless and a crushing extreme musical force.

The evening's set was mostly a mix of the newer songs on the latest EP and some tracks from the first release. One of the set highlights was Everyone's Cancelled, Everything's Cancer where the guitarist broke a string which resulted in a free-form jam until the technical issue was resolved; this worked well as the nailbiting tension led into a wild crescendo that the crowd adored. Also, the live debut of Winter had Sophie from killer Melbourne punk band R.U.B join the band for a wild rendition of this essential track.

(Pic-Mark J.)

As mentioned the various genres the band throws into their overall sound, all play integral and crucial segments and Autumn was the downright blinder given the explosive intersection of black metal and death metal-influenced metalcore. Like every other track, there is well-crafted songwriting with purposeful aggression and melancholy in the attention taken. Does this happen with most bands? rarely or not at all and hence the band soars on the recorded products and very much with live performances. 

RUN are all blood, sweat and tears with their uncompromising devotion to their art. Every song was abrasive, heartfelt and warlike in its consummate and hostile emotive approach. See this herculean band at any chance you can, and buy the new EP(it is a cliche, but you ain't ready for the hostile overload it will give you)


How joyous was it to finally see one of the UK's freshest bands on our shores (although the band has existed since 2011)and it was worth the wait.

The band walks the line between being aggressively heavy and almost emotive dark shoegaze post-hardcore. This is part of the evolving sound and strong progression that is shown across their releases. The reassuring part is none of the changes ever dilute their sound.
Across the phenomenal last album, The Weight of the Mask the blackened post-metal influences are as strong as the dream pop/4AD/noise rock/indie impact. The translation to the live front is even more beguiling.

The band opened with one of my personal favourite songs-Disparity from the classic One Day This Will All End; a crushing, very post-hardcore beast that is everything the band shines with. Dual and different-styled vocals compete for your attention, along with soaring riffs, a dominating rhythm section and epic songwriting. 

From here, Svalbard just hit you with all the punches-Open Wound was radiant with the glorious clean vocals battling with rasping post-hardcore vocals and the bombastic flow that this track has, certainly surprised new fans and those who know the catalogue more closely.
See you just cannot pin the band down to one sound, and that is the stunning overwhelm and appeal that Svalbard suffocates you with. Faking It was certainly a more familiar track to many, with strong crowd participation on the chorus:

“I don’t feel hope, I just fake it / Nothing is sacred”.

Lights Out followed from the latest release, and both vocal performances were glorious, monumental, and indulgent as the thick and acidic guitar work. The band works hard as a unit and the bass and drums really build up the mood as much as the domineering vocal prowess. When I interviewed Serena previously, I noted how her vocals often on the clean resemble the brilliant work of UK shoegaze legends, Lush and she noted how her mum used to play her this band's albums. I keep going back to this, but the mix of styles sets this band apart from all its peers.

Defiance off the same album shouts this fact as clearly and the band deliver the songs with such vigour and presence; that you now realise you are witnessing a truly incredible performance. Between the songs, the band is relaxed in their banter and very humble to be touring Australia and glad we are enjoying their set; zero arrogance or attitude, and that was refreshing to hear. Then the band went back to the previous album with two super confident and enduring tracks, Clickbait and Throw Your Heart Away. These were gigantic highlights as they seemed to lift the crowd when placed in between the newer songs; whatever the release the tracks are delivered more intense live, no doubt. Liam and Serena push themselves with both their gargantuan vocal effort combined with frantic riff attacks. 
We had two of the strongest songs from the latest release as the set was pointing towards its endpoint. That album is both ethereal and stark in its depiction of living with depression. To Wilt Beneath the Weight is in my view one of the best tracks I have heard in the last five years, the lyrics, and the dripping emotion are certainly the works burger. This unforgettable anthem was delivered so well tonight, with the wild build-up, the continued and rapidly increasing suspense and pressure, all culminating in a black gaze finale that almost sounded like a dreamy pop breakdown. There is so much joy in a song that is lyrically as stark as hell. Eternal Spirits closed off the official set with such intensity and the band certainly reinforced both their confidence and godlike status with this banger. How wild was the final moshy part of this track, wow it was spine-chilling; with the band and crowd screaming:

Ash to ash, Dust to dust, You will always be alive in us.

Then we had an encore with one of the band's earliest and one of their heaviest tracks, the gobsmacking Grayscale. Momentous hardcore with tons of crust and old black metal tone made for a haunting and brutish end to their set, but also an opulent track that has space within the nasty riffs for a semi-gothy but post-rock space in a fistfight with the coarser elements of their comprehensively deep style.

Thanks to Destroy All Lines and Nuclear Blast Records for putting this killer tour on.
Please support every band by buying their music/merch; see the links above or via each band's social media outlets.


And they have already said they are keen to return back soon!!!