Jun 2011 16

Cover Image
Category: Neo-folk / Industrial
Album: Heimkunft
Stars: 3
Blurb: Belarusian band debuts with album of martial industrial, pop vocals, and ambient textures.


Svalbard was originally formed as a one-man project in 2006 by Vicheslav Shenderovich. Based in Gomel, Belarus, the project was originally focused on neo-classical influences and dark ambient sounds. Eventually Svalbard was joined by another member, K.S., and the band moved into a more militaristic and pop-oriented direction.

Svalbard’s debut full-length album is titled Keimkunft, German for “homecoming.” Beginning with the three minute instrumental track “Zeitwende,” Svalbard offers us a glimpse of their earlier sounds. Initially reserved, the song soon snowballs into an intense and somewhat epic piece. Keimkunft then swiftly jumps into more mainstream territory with tracks such as “The Mist that Hides Your Trace” and “Endless Fall” as such tracks demonstrate a very willful pop sensibility, even if it is somewhat dated. Shenderovich’s vocal style, often singing in English, strongly resembles those of Wolfsheim’s Peter Heppner, and he presently lacks a full range of expression and pitch, his grasp of both English and the German language is impressive enough that it’s certainly possible Svalbard just require more time to hone their skills. But, as the vocals are such a dominant and important presence on this disc, vocal training may become necessary if the band wants to keep using them in an attempt to produce a trademark sound.

Keimkunft also features more combative and forceful musical elements. “Abschied Von Der Jugend” is one such example, taking a direction somewhat more consistent with modern industrial dance music. Many other tracks use military-style drumming, and any person who listens to Svalbard is going to inevitably make a comparison to Laibach, Der Blutharsch, or Rome.

Svalbard is notable also for their consistency of quality and ability to blend various styles together, but as with most new bands, there is something lacking that they haven’t quite gotten the knack of yet. Their influences are still too recognizable and they haven’t forged their own path yet. Even so, this album can be recommended for fans of martially-informed music. As for the rest of you out there, you may want to keep an eye open for what Svalbard releases next.
Track list:

  1. Zeitwende
  2. The Mist That Hides Your Trace
  3. Timelessness
  4. Das Schweigen
  5. Abschied Von Der Jugend
  6. Endless Fall
  7. Eclipse
  8. Stalker
  9. Herbstgestalt
  10. Heimkunft

Svalbard MySpace http://www.myspace.com/svalbardofficial
Lichterklang Website http://lichterklang.com
Lichterklang MySpace http://www.myspace.com/lichterklang
Brian Backlash (BrianBacklash)

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