It’s hard to title another band who have shed the skin of youth in a more magnificent way than The Hyena Kill. Previously known only by adherents of subterranean noise, the Manchester alt-metal collective recently transcended from the obscurity of underground noise-metal with the release of their second full length A Disconnect. Whereas the release saw the band retaining their core identity – one composed of jarring and scrapping metallic tendencies – the record is the ushering in of a new chapter of the band, one that is abound to see the band reach new heights and peers.
A bleakly poetic masterpiece where catharsis is visible but out of reach, A Disconnect stands as an articulation of the scarring trauma and personal agony frontman Steven Dobbs encountered in years past. Intimate in a fashion that borders upon discomfort, the album is a progressive powerhouse of metallic pain and tangible emotion, one that’s abound to resonate with thousands who have endured similar woe and dismay.
With the record out now via APF Records, Steven and guitarist Sam Jones (Guitars, Synths) got in touch to breakdown A Disconnect, track by track.
Sam: "I made Septic almost entirely separately from the rest of the band, sat in front of Pro Tools and had absolutely no idea what they would think of it - but I think unsurprisingly, this was one of the last tracks that came together for the record; after spending a long time discussing how we wanted the record to flow together, we decided that some kind of bookend would work perfectly, and at that point the themes of the record had really started to materialise into something more cohesive. I was leaning quite heavily into using Reaktor Blocks at the time (a strange, module/automation heavy synth instrument), and it’s where I built a lot of the synth elements that ended up being peppered throughout the record in one way or another."
Steven: "I have so many fond memories of writing this track. Charlie (Seisay, Bass) and I used to have these long messy Friday night jams. We wrote the latter half of the song first. We both got insanely wasted and came up with that whole section. Its first incarnation went on for about 10 mins, we just buzzed off it and played it over and over until I felt a bit sick. I went in the next day and started putting the rest of it together. As soon as we presented it to Lorna and Sam it turned into a different beast altogether."
"The music was so fun to create but I agonised over the vocal melodies. I didn't fully commit to the chorus until the last min, I had two choruses lined up but I'm happy I went with this one. This song has some of my favourite lyrics and melodies I’ve ever committed to record."
Sam: "This was the song that I felt like I had discovered my place in this band. I use a bunch of guitar loops and various effects pedal freak-outs to try and create this denser ‘thing’ on top of the straighter riffage. This is absolutely the moment I am most looking forward to when we can get on a stage and play these songs together."
Steven: "This was the first track that we wrote as a four piece. The bare bones of the track were kicking around from when Lorna (Blundell, Drums) and I were jamming as a two piece. We basically had decided to call time on the band. Because we had this one song unfinished, we decided to go in the studio and record a final farewell track. The only problem was the song felt really empty playing it with just two instruments so we recruited Sam and Charlie to help us flesh it out and make it massive. We just wanted to have one last fun studio experience with our best friends. The first time we jammed it just clicked and new ideas started forming straight away. Looking back, it was such an awesome moment."
Steven: "The main riff was also spawned from the Friday night jams. Charlie and I imagined it to be this really slow drawn out post-rock thing but as soon as we jammed it with Lorna, she just slammed a disco beat on it and gave it a whole new lease of life. I adore Lorna's drumming on this track. It’s a personal favourite of mine just because it feels far removed from anything we've recorded before."
"The bulk of the lyrics just fell into my lap which is always nice and a relief. Every time I listen to it, I’m transported straight back to my mental state at the time of writing. There is a real yearning for something, just wanting to escape and become someone else. I don't think those issues have been resolved, probably why this song still affects me the way it does."
Steven: "I can’t wait to play this one live. It was fairly straightforward to write. Lorna and I used to jam the pre-chorus riff in sound check all the time so I’m glad it finally managed to work its way into a song. We basically built the song around the verse drumbeat. As soon as Lorna whipped that out everything else just fell into place. This is another track that I toiled over the lyrics and melodies. I had too many ideas, so it was a nightmare to choose what I liked best."
Steven: "I love this song as it’s very personal to me even though I find it uncomfortable to listen to. It’s been around in some form or other for years, I never thought it would see the light of day, at least on a The Hyena Kill record. I think it slots in perfectly against all the soundscapes and textures. We got Maggie from Pijn to lay down some cello which she slayed, there is so much emotion oozing from that cello part. It's the first time on record that I’ve allowed myself to be that vulnerable, I felt really anxious about putting myself out there like that. Still do. In terms of the subject matter it’s the most linear song I’ve written. I tend to jump from different subjects within a song but this one just didn't feel right to do that. I won’t say what it’s about, but it paved the way for me to be more open when it comes to writing lyrics."
Steven: "Straight up banger and a nod to the typical The Hyena Kill in your face style. We wrote this in about 30 mins. I love it when that happens. I really can’t wait to blow off the stage rust with this tune."
Steven: "This was the second track we wrote together as a four piece and one of my favourites from the album. Everyone just brought their A game on this. All the performances are amazing. When Sam first showed us his synth and guitar parts I was blown away. He transformed the song and created this eerie tension which really helped when it came time to finalise the vocal parts. That euphoric ending is just beautiful, I had no idea it was going to turn out the way it did."
"This is defo one of the songs where the lyrics and melody just poured out. It wasn’t until it was finished that I started to understand what the actual subject matter is. The one that glues this track together is Lorna. Her shift in dynamics really gives the track flow and movement. She has a natural understanding of dynamic control that just makes making music with her effortless"
Sam: "This is a personal favourite for me on the record. We took a maximalist approach; no immediate concerns about how we were going to arrange it for a live show, and instead focused on creating a pretty dense (but still subtle) atmosphere with a lot of synths and layered guitars. Seeing this one come together from what we had worked on in a practice room into the pretty far-reaching end result was incredibly satisfying."
Steven: "This is the most ambitious track we have done to date and wouldn't have been possible without Sam and Charlie. It's like a giant mood swing over the course of its six-minute run time. The second half of the song was another result of Charlie’s and I’s late-night jams. I remember writing it and saying well this is not going to work it's all a bit ridiculous. The first half of the song was essentially its own song. We had no intention of putting the two together. At some point we decided to mash them up and it just worked. Although we had jammed it loads, I still wasn't sure how it was going to come across on record, it felt like a gamble, but it was one that really paid off. The solos in the latter half of the song still give me goosebumps."
Sam: "I think this is an easy album highlight, but it wasn’t always the case. We did have to spend a long time making it feel like the pieces blended together organically, and as such it’s probably the one we spent the most time on as a band. Hearing this come together, at long last, in the mix was a pretty incredible moment."
Sam: "I remember Dobbs called me one day and talked about a track he had been toying around with. Tool's new record had just come out, and we were talking a lot about how some tracks of theirs would almost disappear into a storm and emerge again at different points. I got a brief from Dobbs about what he had in his head, and then spent the next six months or so toying with ideas and how things should flow until we had what felt like an appropriate outro to the record. I honestly thought people might hate it - but it was almost freeing to not care and end the record on our own terms."
"The end guitar for this one was actually the same one we tracked in my London flat one evening - there was something so simple and vulnerable about it. It just made sense to keep it in. Despite sounding completely different to the preceding songs, I think this is one of the songs that most represents A Disconnect. I’m truly excited about how this side of our music is going to grow and evolve."
Steven: "This track means so much to me. It only existed as an idea in my head. All I had was the guitar part and melody. I don’t know how Sam came up with what he did, he set the tone so beautifully. I had no idea what was coming until he first showed it to me. I don’t actually remember recording the guitar part, all I know is that I was on a 48hr bender and somewhere in the middle I recorded the guitar track. The lyrics are pretty bleak with no sign of resolve or hope. When married up with the other tracks it seems to be a fitting end to the album but at the time, I had no idea it was going to work like that. There have been so many happy accidents along the way. The very end of this tune really feels like you’ve been on a fucked-up journey and you're just getting your breath back. I remember recording the vocals and I just got lost in the moment. I did it in one full take, it was a surreal moment and something I’ve not experienced in the vocal booth before."
"The major element in the making of this record is the producer Andy Hawkins. He was essentially like the fifth member of the band. He helped guide us and make sense of what we were trying to achieve and constantly kept pushing us to explore new ideas and work outside our comfort zone. He knew exactly what direction we were moving in when for the most part we didn't and were just along for the ride. Andy gets it and that’s why he’s so awesome to work with."