I first saw The Hyena Kill perform live well over two years ago, having caught them by chance at Camden’s Black Heart. Whilst the Manchester duo seldom pass through London, the experience was somewhat overwhelming given the location; one of London’s tiniest but loudest first-floor venues. Having left my earplugs at home that day, I spent the next few days regretting that decision and suffering from mild tinnitus. Despite that failure, not a single aspect of their performance, music or mere presence in today’s intimidatingly vast live music scene has managed to evade me.
Having spent the past few years photographing some of the loudest and established live acts to pass through London – from Motorhead to Mastodon, Skindred to Slash, I have largely resigned myself to accepting the fact that pretty much any other ‘new’ band I see simply wouldn’t have what it takes to arouse me.
Yes – I believe music should and for the most part, does arouse. Whether it’s Pink Floyd’s DSOTM initiating me on an intense introspective journey at 4:20 am or blasting Slipknot’s eponymous opus at full-whack on a rush-hour commute, the very reasons for my love of music stem from its ability to externalise the complex emotions that otherwise would be unexpressed. Needless to say, both the anticipation and eventual listening of ‘Atomised’, The Hyena Kill’s debut album most certainly led me to feel a stirring in my loins.
Described so eloquently by Metal Hammer as ‘a turbocharged brick shithouse of a beast’, I’m in absolutely no position to disagree. Having arrived back from work early on a sweltering mid-August afternoon, I was elated to find on my doorstep a mysterious vinyl-sized box, albeit worried for the safety of its contents. Having pledged a month earlier to help ensure that the band’s crowd-funding goal was reached, I peeled open the packaging to reveal a magnificently designed sleeve with Laura and Steven’s beautiful faces on the insides, adorned with their suitably stylish and well-crafted autographs. With this in mind, the very first thing I did when I got home – before even sitting down, was to take out that purple bad boy of an LP, put it on for a spin and crank that shit up.
Immediately struck by the masterful calibre of the recording (though possibly a CD master printed to vinyl as is so often done these days), it captures brilliantly the band’s intense live energy and the gargantuan sound they produce. For a debut album, the production and instrumentation is exactly what it should be; Lorna dutifully smashing her kit alongside Stephen creating a beautiful barrage of noise in the way he does live – a simple fixed-bridge Les Paul through an octave pedal to add the lower end, refined with the heavy distortion this music and audience requires. All of the above topped off with crisp belting vocals really do serve perfectly in unleashing the complex swathes of emotions contained within.
Definitely showing love for the likes of QOTSA, Deftones and Tool, the album kicks off with ‘Crosses’, ‘Your Loss’ and the anger soundly unfolds. The untiring vocal and guitar work ring in cacophonous harmony with the rhythmic and technically sound drum work. ‘Still Sick’ nods to the band’s more punky influences and ‘The Waiting Room’ splits the album up with its ethereal textures before heading straight back into the heavier likes of ‘Tongue Tied’, ‘Choke’ and ‘Erase You’ – ending the album with the title track ‘Atomised’, a drony and emotional six and a half minute wind down from what has been a blast of a ride.
At 32 minutes across 8 songs, The Hyena Kill’s debut album ‘Atomised’ is far from overindulgent and delivers the right sized battering ram to the head just as one would expect from a well-written and engineered hard rock album.
‘Atomised’ is available to buy via the band’s site – accessible at http://thehyenakill.com/ along with tickets for their October 2016 UK tour:
8 Oct – Neighbourhood Festival (Manchester)
9 Oct – Corporations (Sheffield)
10 Oct – Brudenell Social Club (Leeds)
11 Oct – The Garage (Glasgow)
12 Oct – Electric Circus (Edinburgh)
13 Oct – East Village Arts Club (Liverpool)
16 Oct – The Notes Cafe (Southampton)
17 Oct – Sunflower Lounge (Birmingham)
18 Oct – Old Blue Last (London)
19 Oct – Moles (Bath)
20 Oct – Crauford Armd (Milton Keynes)
Words by Ed Jacobs