Originally conceived as a full length album, Hysterical Injury’s new EP Blood Burst marks fresh beginnings from a band whose sound has become synonymous with Bristol and Bath’s noise rock scene. It’s not that the duo failed to impress with their official debut album Dead Wolf Situation; more that Blood Burst charts clear advances in Hysterical Injury’s career to date. With two years under their belt since their debut was released, Annie and Tom Gardiner’s recording interlude may have been filled with copious live performances, but studio documentation of their progression is well overdue.
First and foremost, Blood Burst demonstrates the sound of a well oiled unit. We know from their shows that Hysterical Injury don’t rest on their laurels when it comes to musical precision. Even when they confess to sound difficulties, it seems the two musicians are so unbelievably in tune with one another, other musicians might as well lie down and scream “ROT” at their inferior effort. Compounded by stellar production by Gordon Raphael (The Strokes, Regina Spektor), Blood Burst creaks and groans into life without either band mate losing sight of what the other is doing. This might sound like a basic feat for any recording artist, but the clarity of Raphael’s work allows the ferocious talent of Hysterical Injury as a live band to shine through on record. Blood Burst is the first time we can honestly say that’s happened.
Raphael’s contribution to this project compounds the differences between Blood Burst and Dead Wolf Situation, but it’s not the only new force at play. Hysterical Injury’s songwriting has progressed, too. In a recent interview with DrunkenWerewolf for Issue 24, songwriter Annie admitted to a literary influence on Blood Burst. The most obvious result is “Under Milk Wood”, a song that pays homage to various characters from the Dylan Thomas classic of the same name, but "Blood on the Daisy" and "Woken with a Warning" are also inspired by literature respectively.
Hysterical Injury's songwriting has also progressed to accommodate the Gardinerss high calibre instrumentation, as well as their motivation to push boundaries. While the question, “How does she make that sound out of a bass?” remains as relevant today as it was in 2010; there’s layered integrity to “Blood on the Daisy” and an aptitude for an up/down tempo on “Woken with a Warning” that previously wasn’t there. As a result, the latter song is a highlight of Blood Burst, with Annie’s vocal mimicking an almost oriental style and the melody rivaling the best of Hysterical Injury’s chosen genre. Oh, and there's genuine screaming - not that silly thing heavy metal bands do with their voice.
While it’s a shame Blood Burst didn’t make full length status, this EP is a truly accomplished piece of work and resounding war cry at anyone who thought Hysterical Injury might not be the best band in the South West at the moment. The shamefully under-championed jewel of our city, it’s only a matter of time before they blast away the cobwebs of Bristol’s mediocrity.
Release: 20th March 2015, Crystal Fuzz Records