The Hyena Kill
“There’s nothing more therapeutic than screaming your head off,” says Steven Dobb, vocalist/guitarist of The Hyena Kill. “When you’ve had a shit day, it’s incredibly cathartic to step into a rehearsal room and just make the loudest noise imaginable.”
The Hyena Kill released their debut album Atomised on May 16. It’s a beast, eight tracks of feral, ferocious, full-tilt rock ‘n’ roll noise dealing with love and loss, rejection and vengeance, desperation and dreams… all the important stuff. And it’s an album that marks out the Manchester duo (completed by hard-hitting drummer Lorna Blundell) as one of the most vital and uncompromising acts to emerge from the UK’s underground rock community in years.
“When we started out there weren’t really any bands in Manchester like us,” says Dobb. “Our original aim was pretty simple: we wanted to make really heavy, aggressive music, to rock out and play the filthiest riffs we could. We didn’t fit in to Manchester’s indie scene, or the local metal scene, so we just wanted to carve out our own space.”
Drawn together by a shared love of Queens of the Stone Age, Deftones, Helmet and Tool, Dobb and Blundell announced their arrival in 2012 with the release of the explosive Gush EP, four tracks of searing, coruscating distort-pop which exploded like a nailbomb into the subterranean noise scene. Since then – via’s 2014’s Scrape My Bones EP and two further singles, Suck It Up and last year’s thrilling double-header Still Sick / Blisters – the duo have refined, honed and focussed their fierce alternative rock sound into something harsher, leaner and altogether nastier. The result is Atomised, an unflinching, brutal dissection of what it means to be skint, frustrated, alienated and adrift in modern Britain. From tense, wired recent single Crosses (“Cut it up and sell us cheap, crosses for eyes and sunken cheeks…”) to the sparse, bruised, hypnotic title track (“These broken hearts are never far from where we are…”) via stark, snub-nosed titles such as Your Loss, Choke and Erase You, it’s a compelling snapshot of a young band over-dosing on volume, adrenaline, distortion and a shared passion for venomous, visceral, breath-stealing rock ‘n’ roll.
“The album isn’t a concept album,” says Dobb, “but it’s got a lot of darkness and pain in there, coming from frustrations and insecurities and anger with past situations and day-to-day life. The bands who influence us most are uncompromising and honest and unafraid to let their emotions show, and hopefully that same attitude shines through in what we do.”
Recorded and mixed by Tom Peters at the Grand Studio in Clitheroe, Lancashire, mastered, thanks to a successful Pledge campaign, at London’s legendary Abbey Road studios by Christian Wright (who has cut albums for the likes of Radiohead, Blur and Ed Sheeran), and set for release on the band’s own Proud Cow imprint, Atomised represents a bold step forward from a band who’ve never been afraid to do things their own way.
“The DIY scene in this country is really good for bands like us right now,” says Dobb. “The calibre of the bands is amazing, the shows are really busy, the fans are supporting vinyl and merch sales, and as a result underground bands – like Heck and God Damn and Tiger Cub and False Advertising – can function really well. Obviously press and radio are hugely important in getting to a wider audience, but there’s also something exciting and gratifying in building up a word-of-mouth buzz. We’ve sold out our last three shows in Manchester, and the scene is going from strength to strength across the country. It feels like a good time to be in a band like ours. Now we just want as many people as possible to hear the album and see how far we can take this.”