The Hyena Kill EP Launch
Manchester's noisiest duo launch their career-best release in style
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
Playing to a sparse but receptive crowd, Scottish born but Salford based post punk duo Giant Boys are an interesting watch. Comprising of just a frontman and a guitarist, with drums and bass coming from backing tracks their animated singer manipulates throughout, their songs fly off simple but forthright drum beats, hazy guitars drowned in reverb and raw, shouty vocals. They lack the presence of a live drum kit and their guitarist is predominantly stationary throughout, but Scottie McKnight’s liveliness and his funny, tongue in cheek interaction with the audience between songs means there are still moments of their set that succeed in ramping up the crowd ahead of the rest of the evening. With an element of Clutch to their sound, they need a full band to be anything more than the glorified karaoke they jokingly admit they are halfway thorough their set.
Stockport’s Under are a band of many guises and it is never, ever possible to predict which version of the band will turn up. Tonight, it’s a cross between their low-churning, gritty doom metal thump and their Primus inspired avant garde aesthetics which bleed through the most. Their songs barrage through the PA, armed with angular riffs and three part vocal harmonies, Simon Mayo’s long black hair contorting into garish, shadowy shapes as he bangs his head, Matt Franklin sounding unapologetically angry as he bellows down the mic. It’s a shame the crowd’s energy never really ramps up to the kind of levels where Under could thrive at, but perhaps their leftfield arrangements and hard-to-decipher craziness was just a little bit too weird for some tonight. They end with Suicide By Cop, which blends bleak and morbid clean guitar work with a bristling, building snare drum with slow and murderous crescendos, lurking throughout like wolves in the dark.
The place seems busier, livelier and far more vibrant as the dim lights illuminate the two musicians of The Hyena Kill. Drummer Lorna Blundell is typically abrasive and energetic from the off, thumping out magic on her minimalistic kit, proving that intelligence with less will always trump excessiveness with more. Frontman and guitarist Steven Dobb meanwhile uses his performance, as he always does, to regurgitate fury and passion; watching him rip into his guitar strings and punch out riffs while he screams blue murder has always been like watching a thrilling and wonderfully cathartic rock n’ roll exorcism. Tonight is no different. They smash through a tonne of tracks from their ridiculous new EP, Spun, which highlights the band’s recent and huge evolution; from which Cells gets its live debut. Spun’s closing track in the flesh is vigorous and vicious but also pained and ethereal. It is songs like that and Ribbons, which is already becoming a set highlight whenever they play it, that have taken the band to a level where they can really do some damage to the mainstream rock circuit. Their big and hard-hitting riffs are there, atop which Dobbs roars with vehemence and venom, but there are more textures too. Their ebb and flow of dynamic changes and unpredictable but well crafted song structures is greatly improved. There are times tonight where Dobbs loses his balance from playing guitar too hard or from screaming all his oxygen out. He gives everything into his music, he always does. Tonight the crowd feels his passion, it pumps through its collective veins, invigorating and entertaining. This is one hell of a band.