Killing In The Name of The Hyena Kill...
It's Freshers week and Manchester is heaving. Queues extend far beyond the doors of any bar offering cheap shots and bargain thrills and the Academy is no different, with no less than three gigs on across its venues tonight plus the Union Bar/Club Academy's booze draped shenanigans. New Found Glory play Academy 1 and Simon Le Bon's Arcadia play Academy 2, but it is Academy 3 where we are headed to witness Manchester's The Hyena Kill play their biggest headline show to date.
The queue issues affect us too and by the time we have our tickets and have made it upstairs The Pearl Hearts, travelling up from London especially tonight, are heading off stage to a great ovation as we walk in. The two piece, who utilise loop pedals to thicken their live sound were, by the sounds of what people in another queue are saying - this time for the bar - their showmanship and musical ability have both won them new found fans and confounded more praise from the already concerted tonight.
It's hard to say whether it was the band's relaxed demeanour early on or the talkative, bar-hovering punters that made the start of The Empty Page's set a little pedestrian and lacking that exciting edge, but halfway through something changed. The ante was upped and the crowd's interest piqued. Sonically, they draw from the now old new wave of British heavy metal as much as they do punk, with sprinklings of Joy Division; the guitar tone is tight and warm, the bass rounded a simplistic, creating a platform onto which Kel's vocals can drive their songs. But it is when their drummer, Jim, stepped in on backing vocals that their dynamic truly singed us with a more palpable energy. He had joked about nearly not making the gig because of a newly acquired tag wrapped around his ankle - be that a joke or a rock n' roll truth - but he stretched the bands otherwise straight forward sonic palette to greater, more enveloping depths. Whilst they could have given the crowd more vigour and aggression, they're a tight band very comfortable in their own skin.
For Steven Dobb and Lorna Blundell of The Hyena Kill, there are nerves tonight. Their biggest headline show to date, far better attended than either of them expected, they unleashed four songs that will make up the bulk of their forthcoming EP tonight. Most of those new tracks, which will be laid down in the studio in November, were debuted tonight and so it is easy to understand any tentativeness or apprehension on the band's part yet, despite what they tell you, they didn't show a single ounce of nervousness. From the off, with strobe lights pummelling your pupils like it was the apocalypse, they ooze confidence and swagger.
Dobb's guitar tone is more gurthy than an elephant's cock and it obliterated the room tonight. Speaking to the guitarist after the show, he may have felt it was a slightly more reserved or sedated crowd than they are used to tonight, but that didn't blunt their attack. Songs like Crosses and Still Sick build on filthy, raw-as-it-gets riffs and primal, bruising tom heavy drums before meandering into hypnotic post-rock passages and crescendos of unfiltered fury and emotion. New single Panic Womb, which clocks in at well under two minutes, is demented, thunderous and breathtakingly virile yet incredibly cathartic and invigorating. The wall of noise they create is enough to crush men and women of weak resolve, and perhaps that explains a slightly more motionless crowd because, from where we were stood, everybody was floored. It's hard to pick flaws with a band that bleed such aggressive honesty with their music. They are a breath of, not so much fresh air, but disgustingly dirt-wrecked air in a world that can be guilty of playing it much to safe and much too clean.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin