“You know what it’s been a bit overwhelming the amount of people that have connected with the music, we didn’t expect any of it. We just set out to make the most honest and open record that we could so it’s really nice to see it resonating with people like that.” Such is a perfectly reasonable and expected response to being asked how one would feel about the successful release of their most recent record. However, for The Hyena Kill frontman Steven Dobb, the recent release of the group’s new record A Disconnect was originally never planned, let alone intended.
For the vast majority of the group’s career, the Manchester alt-metal collective have been ailed by the cursed blessing that is being ‘a closely guarded secret’. The subject of shining praise from a throng of devotees and impressed industry types specialising in the sounds of the subterranean, but never the ones to receive the spoils of such praise. Even with the group’s debut LP Atomised and their 2018 EP Spun allowing the band to rub shoulders with some of the most shining stars of the scene – such as Arcane Roots, Employed To Serve and Delta Sleep – the band still remained a proposition synonymous with relative obscurity. With that in mind, the then two piece, formed of Dobb and drummer Lorna Blundell, planned on entering the studio to record one final farewell for their devoted fanbase prior to bowing out. What ultimately transpired instead was the release that is revitalising their entire careers.
Released just recently via APF Records, A Disconnect is a pure jolt of emotional duress that see’s the band in a whole new light. With their personal doubled with the inclusion of new members Sam Jones and Charlie Seisay on guitar and bass respectively, the new record is a demonstration of progressive dexterity, claustrophobic intimacy and dynamic dichotomy that is gilded by scalping sonic filth. However, even with the record being musically engaging, what truly makes this record something unparalleled within it’s field at the current time is it’s emotional depth and how it’s explored and articulated. A profound and suffocatingly personal exploration of the inescapable trauma endured by Dobbs, A Disconnect is a desperate search for solace in which catharsis is upon the horizon, yet always out of reach.
"The most heart wrenching part is when you take a step back and look at what you’ve purged."
Channeling and articulating such intimate experiences in manner as profound as this would be a colossal, if not life altering ordeal for a plethora of acts. But for Dobb, penning his thoughts in such a way was something that came with ease – at least initially. “To be honest music and song writing has always been my outlet and vehicle of expression so putting pen to paper is the easy part", states the vocalist. “The most heart wrenching part is when you take a step back and look at what you’ve purged. For me writing represents freedom of thought, to just get into a state of flow until the words just pour out of you. In order for this to happen I have to allow myself to be vulnerable which is not always a good place to be in emotionally.”
“The writing of the music was so natural and simple. Things fell into place with very little struggle or back and forth", he continues. “That was the most enjoyable thing about the whole process. The key thing was we really took our time and didn’t put any limitations on what we wanted to create. For 90% of the record I didn’t write the lyrics or melodies till after the music was finished. The band didn’t really know what the hell I was singing about until they heard the mixes.”
Of course, even if the record serves as a vessel for his search for comfort in the face of mental anguish and adversity, A Disconnect is the product of a collective working not just in tangent, but operating on the same wave length. As aforementioned, prior to the creation of this record the size of The Hyena Camp size doubled in size. Once a duo – one fully established within their subterranean Manchester noise-metal scene – the creation of the record was on overhaul of their group dynamic as well as their take on abrasive emotional output. Such a major change of dynamics can trigger mayhem for even the most ratified of acts, but this record is concrete proof that The Hyena Kill have navigated the trails that come with new members. As Dobb explains, the inclusion of Sam and Charlie was one of chemistry.
“Sam and Charlie just slotted in perfectly and they both came at it with their own personalities and tastes,” the frontman explains. “What they were coming up with in the first few jams just blew us away. It was such an easy transition from two to four. We've been friends with Sam and Charlie for years so it was just a massive hang. It was the perfect opportunity to dive straight into soundscapes we had only ever dipped our toes into in the past. It opened up so much in terms of song writing. It was really freeing."
"If you can find some solace or the music ignites emotion in you then as far as I’m concerned it’s done its job. Even if you fucking hate it."
A Disconnect may be the grandiose ushering in for an all new and prosperous chapter for The Hyena Kill, but as long term listeners can attest to, the group still have their roots firmly implanted in their origins. The reviews of critical acclaim may still be rolling in from some of the most illustrious acts within the alternative press echelon, but the quintet still remain loyal to the grit-bestrewn code of their youth. But regardless, the fact of the matter is that A Disconnect is the prime instigator for the attention and praise this band have been deserving of for years. It’s the record that will – and more or less currently is – placing the band in the public eye of the national alternative scene and will lead them to spoils new and fresh. Ultimately however, the record may not the catalyst for catharsis as hoped for Dobb, but as he explains simply, if it triggers emotion in anyone, the pain explored in it’s creation was worth it. “If you can find some solace or the music ignites emotion in you then as far as I’m concerned it’s done its job. Even if you fucking hate it.”