A Disconnect by The Hyena KillRelease date: March 5, 2021
Label: APF Records
The Internet is chock full of motivational posters and tattoo designs concerning the survival of suffering. One thing is certainly true, the exposure to pain can lead to some great art and A Disconnect is no exception. The album centres around the experiences of The Hyena Kill guitarist and vocalist Steven Dobb as he found himself incapacitated in hospital with only the demons of previous trauma as company. The result is a claustrophobic and dark ten tracks which have moments of blistering alt rock, quiet contemplation and explosive bursts of emotion.
The first noticeable sound deviation from previous release Spun, is the fleshing out to a four piece with the addition of Sam Jones on guitar and keys and Charlie Seisay on bass. Whilst the narrative of the album was driving the band down a darker path the expansion really enables the fulfilment of the idea. ‘Cauterised’ is certainly a beneficiary as the band sways into the modern Deftones sound with a rich atmosphere which exposes itself as it continues to pour and melt as the track progresses. Dobb and drummer Lorna Blundell never struggled to make remarkable music as a two piece but the ambition here is far more authentic having four members.
One aspect which is really engaging with The Hyena Kill, although it probably stops them from being the stadium filling rock band that it could easily be, is the mix of structures in the songs. A versus/chorus approach is never breached, and it can stop an immediate bond to some of the tracks, yet it offers a longevity as I kept coming back to investigate more or to hear favourite parts again. Penultimate track ‘Incision’ is a stunning example of this as even though it is a bit of a slow burner it contains one of the best breakdowns on the album. As it starts generating towards the peak of the riff I could feel my spine tingle as the anthemic guitar meets the pounding drums, my body began to elevate and convulse and even though it was all over too quickly the chills from my arm hair returning to its flattened state was warmed by the rousing ending.
There is also an overall balance to the album, ‘Witness’ and ‘Bleached’ both have sections of eruptive angst and pounding rhythms but also meld into progressive soundscapes to avid burnout. ‘Passive Disconnect’ offers that real throat rasping burst that I’d love to be able to sing along to, whilst ‘Thin’ and ’Glass Scene’ bring the pace right down from the surrounding fiery tracks. These combinations keep everything feeling fresh and gives each song a stronger identity.
The Hyena Kill really scratch an itch I probably owe to my musical upbringing from 80s and 90s pop, rock and Indie through to teenage love of the Manic Street Preachers, Muse and Smashing Pumpkins. Even though I mainly dwell in darker and heavier sounds these days I still have that need to lose myself in something anthemic. Just as an itch moves around the body when scratching so to The Hyena Kill progresses and develops with each release. A Disconnect ticks so many boxes as it feels familiar yet sounds so distinctive and there is just so much quality that keeps dragging me back for further listens.