Manchester band The Hyena Kill are venturing on a journey into unfamiliar territory, bringing listeners into their world of turmoil with an album that seeks to reconcile personal trauma and pain. The result is an intense journey of intoxicating soundscapes fuelled by driving riffs, impassioned vocals and unrelenting rhythms that terrify, haunt and excite – or, as they put it, “controlled chaos.”
The band first started out as a duo of Steven Dobb (Dobbs; vocals and guitar) and Lorna Blundell (backing vocals and drums), who released an album and a few EPs and gigged extensively. But their desire to experiment with their sound and dynamic and address a new songwriting approach has seen them recently double their numbers with the addition of Sam Jones (guitar and synth) and Charlie Seisay (bass).
As Lorna tells us: “Adding two new members meant we could expand our soundscape, they have brought more depth to our music and we have matured sonically as a band because of it. It’s been interesting for me as a drummer going from being half the band to a quarter. I adapted my playing to make more room in the songs to accommodate a bigger, fuller sound; it’s the most disciplined playing I’ve done for this band. Instead of running around my kit throughout and bouncing off just Dobbs’ guitar, I had to pick my moments to flair up, and equally know when to settle.”
The band’s sound has, unsurprisingly, evolved over the years and with the growth from two members to four. As Dobbs explains: “Our earlier stuff is really energetic, heavy and raucous. Though we’ve kept the raw element, I think by trying something different the new album might surprise a few people. It feels and sounds a lot bigger, loads of massive guitar and drums.”
Our first taster of The Hyena Kill as a four-piece is Bleached, which was released in December. Lorna describes it as “short, sweet, sweaty and fierce” and Dobbs summarises it as “a vicious onslaught of riffs and shouting.”
Bleached opens up with a stabbing riff that continues under a wall of huge driving guitars and drums. That drops into a verse of echoey vocals over drums, which explodes into a huge chorus of screamed vocals and heavy guitars and drums. A cool little high-pitched riff kicks in through a second verse, which launches into another massive chorus before the return of the high-pitched riff then a meandering guitar lick before another heavy chorus brings this quick but intense track to a close. Check it out in the video here:
This track is the second from the band’s upcoming album A Disconnect, which is out next month. On the album, Dobb tells us: “It’s the most dynamic record that we have made to date, with a lot more focus on songwriting, structures and textures. We really wanted to push ourselves musically and the end result has morphed into something beautiful we are all immensely proud of. It was refreshing to step away from the tried and tested and submerge ourselves into completely new waters.”
While Sam adds: “I’ve come into this band filling a largely different role to my past experiences as a guitarist and musician; It’s been one of filling in the sonic gaps and adding scope beyond what the band were able to accomplish in the past as a duo. I’ve used a lot of layers and guitar loops to add that density across the record while still making sure that I’m not fucking with the core appeal of what the band represents.
“I’d definitely describe myself as an effects-heavy, Post-Rock influenced player, and those fingerprints are all over this new album. I think it’s resulted in a more dynamic record that aspires to be different from the rest of the discography.”
For more of a taste of what to expect from the album, check out the slightly more laid-back but equally dramatic and intense Cauterised in the video below:
The band’s members bring a wide range of influences to the table, from A Perfect Circle, Dillinger Escape Plan and Thrice, to Nirvana, Radiohead and Silversun Pickups, to Chelsea Wolfe and Tori Amos.
And on what inspires their music, Dobbs says: “I write because I have to. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane. This recent record really delves into my ongoing struggle with my own mental health. Music has always been very cathartic for me and sometimes the only tangible outlet for me.”
To which Sam adds: “Restlessness and anxiety. The temporary injection of self-worth it brings to create stuff. I was definitely heavily influenced by Dobbs’ lyrical approach when creating the soundscape elements of the record.”
The Hyena Kill’s first album as a four-piece, A Disconnect, is out on 5 March. And you can possibly expect a cheeky single release before then to get you hyped for it. The band are also due to play ArcTanGent Festival in August, fingers crossed, and are already working on new material.
From what we’ve heard of the band so far this album sounds like being an absolute banger. We’d firmly recommend going to check out some of the band’s back catalogue in the meantime until the album is released, with huge tracks like Exit Mask, Cells and personal favourite Ribbons sure to whet your appetite.