From the moment Hyenas’ ‘Deadweights’ begins, its clear that this isn’t your standard hardcore fare. Minimalistic opener, ‘Noise’ is something of a false start, easing the listener into the release. The introductory leanings continue on second track, ‘Crooked Tongue’, and is stretched out almost to the point of tedium, but not quite. It is, however, relieving when ‘Crooked Tongue’ kicks off proper, in all its punky, riffy glory.
The first half of ‘Deadweights’ operates at a frenetic pace, leaving the listener in doubt og of Hyenas’ uncompromising heaviness. At the same time the Nuremberg foursome allow for the inclusion of complex, mathcore-influenced polyrhythms. With some ridiculously technical drumming on ‘Ambiself’.
There’s also plenty of change-ups in song structure: the aforementioned track heads in an entirely new direction following a breakdown; and even the barely-over-a-minute ‘Self Adjusting’ allows a blink-and-you’ll-miss it bridge.
As ‘Deadweights’ continues, more melodic elements are introduced. But never at the price of the visceral and apocalyptic soundscapes. For example, album stand-out ‘Verminous’ pairs a repetitive, mechanical riff and exceedingly sparse arrangements with liberal tunefulness and clean vocals.
‘Verminous’, ‘Smoothtalkers’ and ‘Displaced’ form a melodic trilogy, with ‘Smoothtalkers’ effortlessly combining mathy riffs with more traditionally rock tropes and clean vocals. ‘Displaced’ takes the melodic elements as far as they can go, being almost four minutes of dark, acoustic instrumentation, featuring very prominent cleans. Despite being a massive dynamic shift, ‘Displaced’ feels like a natural extension of Hyenas’ sound.
‘Live // Live’ returns to frenetic mathcore, but doesn’t feel like a step backwards, as Hyenas never abandoned the core intensity established early on in the record. Proceedings close with ‘Nothing’, essentially a load of noise and feedback, which is a fitting end to such an uncompromising album.
‘Deadweights’ is a fantastic debut. It both establishes a sound, and shows Hyenas are unafraid to pick it apart and play around with what they have created implementing each new idea expertly.
‘Deadweights’ by Hyenas is released on 10th March on Pelagic Records.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)