THE HYENA KILL – A Disconnect
Released: March 5 2021
Steven Dobb – guitar / vocals
Lorna Blundell – drums
Sam Jones – guitar / synth
Charlie Seisay – bass
From the gloomy skies of Manchester descend versatile rockers The Hyena Kill. Combining most of what you loved about late 90s rock and metal, The Hyena Kill are another example that new bands aren’t bound by genre. The result is their second album, A Disconnect, features both the loud/soft dynamic prevalent in grunge and post-grunge rock, combined with the kind of ethereal metal perfected by the likes of Tool and the Deftones.
It begins with you checking the volume control, as a barely inaudible hum drones softly until it becomes a static roar. The drums then kick in and ‘Passive Disconnect’ comes to life with a festival filling riff that demands stamping feet and moshing. The chorus is an adrenaline filled scream fest, perfect for exorcising demons. The middle section goes into a full Tool-esque staccato with vocal melody syncing with the riff, a mind bending effect that draws you in before vocalist Steven Dobb lets out an almighty scream in anguish. This is an album about pain, and at various points Dobb reaches into his guts and verbalises the darkness he finds down there. ‘Cauterised’ is something of a relief, a slow burn of beat and reverb guitars, designed to mystify and build to another massive hook. The slow picking on the guitar strings actually creates an neo-gothic, almost shoegaze vibe, though the chorus itself fits with neither.
They don’t try to be epic on every track though, which keeps the album accessible to non-prog fans (for whom the mere mention of Tool invokes memories of 10 minute songs with horror themed animated videos). ‘Witness’ is a three-and-a-half minute track that finds a decent riff and rides it out, with the verses sound like a stream of conscious lament. Lorna Blundell’s drum work here is thrilling, with a variety of toms and fills elevating the song to one most drummers will need to check out. Similarly, ‘Close Enough’ is built on a great rhythm by Blendell and Charlie Seisay, allowing the guitars to move between chord progressions before getting heavy for the hook, in which Dobb declares he is “already broken”. By way of reference point, it is probably the closest they come to the aforementioned Deftones. Punk/hardcore fans are going to lose their shit over ‘Bleached’. It is a riotous song, less than three minutes, and full of aggression. It is a demonstration of their sheer power and danger, with guitars ready to smash into amps. All the while Blundell keeps the tempo up.
One of the real standouts is the acoustic ballad ‘Thin’. A haunting vocal perfectly captures the agony and shame of body shaming and eating disorders. There is no hiding here, just Dobb and guitars, accompanied by a subtle cello. It’s breathtaking in its execution, in both songwriting and sequencing. Coming in the middle of the album and surrounded by hard rockers, it demands attention and puts the message of loathing and control front and centre for the listener. ‘Glass Scene’ is also a more mellow track, though uses electric instrumentation to create a wall of sound behind Dobb’s vocals. The final section really soars, with some great guitar work by Dobb and Sam Jones.
The other highlight is the brooding ‘Incision’, a dark, twisted turn with pounding rhythms and distorted vocals. Invoking the kind of nightmare where you wake up sweaty and panicked, the band explores their prog capabilities by layering the guitars and drawing out the soft/loud dichotomy. Blundell’s stick work shines in the post scream breakdown, with Seisay’s bass also getting some rub as the beat picks up into a fuzz soaked guitar solo that launches towards the heavens. The final minute comes back to earth, with a scale that ends the track in a more contemplative mood. This is the kind of sonic storytelling that makes other bands envious and will give them a seat with the modern knights of the prog-table. The final track ‘Mire’ is more experimental – a series of buzzes, glitches, loops and distortions. It feels wrong, it doesn’t start as a rock song in the traditional sense, but it builds and has a suitably sinister vibe before the guitars enter and Dobb laments his loss. The close is more melodic than the intro, with an almost lullabye tune on the keys, before fading away.
A Disconnect is a powerful statement from a band on the rise. Considering the amount of territory the band covers, it is a credit to them that it never sounds jarring or out of place. Musically they perfectly accompany the emotional lyrics, with a suitable large canvas to draw on. The Hyena Kill have now dropped two albums of high quality, modern heavy rock, and have managed to avoid pigeon holing themselves in one genre. Of the tracks mentioned it is worth starting with the one that appears to your own sensibilities but at the same time, this is an ALBUM, and playing through from start to finish is a richly rewarding experience.
The Hyena Kill – A Disconnect tracklisting:
2. Passive Disconnect
5. Close Enough
8. Glass Scene