Svalbard’s track-by-track guide to new album The Weight Of The Mask

Svalbard’s brilliant and deeply personal new album, The Weight Of The Mask, comes out on Friday. Serena Cherry guides us through its emotional valleys, one song at a time…

Svalbard’s track-by-track guide to new album The Weight Of The Mask
Serena Cherry
Jenn Five

On Friday, Brit metallers Svalbard release their excellent fourth album, The Weight Of The Mask. Expanding their musical universe even further – taking in elements of post-rock, black metal, hardcore, glacial sparseness, bits that chug and thrash, and even a violin contribution from singer/guitarist Liam Phelan – the nine tracks also see Serena Cherry wearing her heart on her sleeve more boldly than ever.

Ahead of its release, she walks us through The Weight Of The Mask, its influences, her lyrics, and taking inspiration from rollercoasters and Irish guitar heroes…

1Faking It

"Faking It is about feeling pressured to wear a mask of happiness when you are struggling with depression. I'm already a bit of a socially awkward person, so the fear of not fitting in can make me feel obliged to fake a smile when internally I am going through hell. I'm so scared to let the sadness show to others; common phrases like 'being a downer' certainly contribute to this fear. They make me feel as though my depression would be met with intolerance, therefore making it necessary to mask. But the mask can become a barrier, that isolates and traps you away from everyone and robs you of meaningful connection. Basically this song is questioning what causes us to mask our negative emotions, and exploring the detrimental effects of masking when you suffer with depression."

2Eternal Spirits

"I often find myself wondering just how many people were inspired to learn an instrument because of Joey Jordison or Alexi Laiho. I bet the answer is millions. With the recent passing of these two incredible musicians, I wanted to write a song to honour their legacy and acknowledge the fire they lit inside so many aspiring musicians' hearts. It is the musical equivalent of lighting a candle for someone who has passed away, and I personally dedicate it to the memory of Joey Jordison."


"Sometimes, we as humans expect the very worst of ourselves. And sometimes other humans expect the very worst of us, too. This song is about defying those low expectations and proving both yourself and others wrong, whether it's the voice in your head telling you you're going to fail, or being cruelly dismissed by others. It's about summoning all your strength to rail against discouragement and fight back against the haters and the self-doubt they cause. Fun fact: I got the title from a roller coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in America."


"If you're feeling lonely, or if you don't have the best family life, Christmas can be a very difficult time. It can make you painfully aware of that cosy warmth being missing from your life. In this respect, November is a sort-of anti-Christmas song – it's for everyone else out there who finds that time of year hard, when every other Christmas song is talking about how magical this time of year is. The spoken word verses were heavily inspired by For Your Demons by Saturnus, which has given me a lot of comfort during lonely times."

5Lights Out

"If there’s one lyric that sums up a lot of my life, it’s: 'I’m screaming for help whilst I’m muting myself.' This appears on Lights Out to illustrate the frustrating impossibility of depression and anxiety; how reaching out can be one of the most difficult things to do when you’re falling apart. I think lyrically, Lights Out is probably one of the bleakest tracks on the album. The words come from a desperate place of despair. The title was inspired by an EP called Lights Out by a band called Anti-Matter. In a lot of Svalbard lyrics and song titles, I’m making references and paying homage to the music that has saved my life."

6How To Swim Down

"This is one of my favourite songs we have ever written. It’s all about unrequited love, the anguish of secretly liking someone from afar and never being able to tell them how you feel. Lyrically, I used the perspective of playing as a healer in World Of Warcraft to illustrate this point, of selflessly pouring your energy into someone from a distance. It’s such a bittersweet song in both melody and lyrics, with some of the most delicate reverb-drenched guitar leads I’ve written. I think Liam’s violin parts really enhanced the lovelorn emotion, too."

7Be My Tomb

"In his 1985 single Empty Rooms, Gary Moore sang 'Empty rooms where we learn to live without love.' This is a lyric that always hits me super-hard, but especially when living alone. It inspired me to write Be My Tomb, which is all about lovelessness and loneliness, and what it feels like to spend copious amounts of time on your own. It’s another lyrically forlorn track on the album, centered upon worrying that no-one will ever connect with you in a meaningful way ever again."

8Pillar In The Sand

"Pillar in the Sand is the most sentimental song on The Weight of The Mask. It’s super-specific – it's all about Fright Nights at Thorpe Park. This is an event I have been going to for many many years, since I was a teenager. I wanted to write a song about how Fright Nights feels like home to me, no matter how much my life changes. Everything in my life has changed since I first visited Fright Nights and it’s kinda crazy to reflect on that. So yeah, it's basically about having that special place that you keep coming back to year after year, and every time you are there it feels like reconnecting with a special part of yourself."

9To Wilt Beneath The Weight

"This has my favourite lyric in it: 'Grit your teeth when they’ve just been broken.' There’s just so much fight in this lyric, which is the theme of the entire song, to be honest. To Wilt Beneath the Weight is about both acknowledging the dark reality of your demons and fighting against those demons with everything you’ve got. It states: I will not let depression defeat me, no matter how difficult it gets."

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