The Hunger EP is out now.
Intense, intellectual, ferocious, intricate, technical, experimental. There really are not enough adequate adjectives to describe the sheer power of Galway post-hardcore quintet ILENKUS. Their most recent release, the Hunger EP, saw them streamline their sound to ratchet up the intensity even further. This, combined with the fascinating concept behind the release, makes it, in our opinion, their most accomplished release to date.
We managed to grab the band before their shows in Cork, Galway, Belfast, and Limerick. They expanded on the themes of sex, murder, and madness that permeate the EP, along with exploring how they approached the release musically.
First off I should state that this record was written as one piece of music. A lot of our old songs are pretty long, so for this project we decided to change our approach and split the 15 minutes of music into 4 shorter tracks. Our aim was to make it more direct, aggressive and cut out anything that we deemed unnecessary. Another change was the tuning, in the past we’d always played in either drop-d or standard tuning, whereas this time round the whole thing was written in drop-c and we used some octave pedals in places too.
In terms of the lyrics on the EP, we wanted to maintain continuity throughout. So we came up with a concept for all four songs and a way in which we wanted to put it across to the listener. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Hunger is pretty much about sex, murder and the descent into madness. The story is centered around one character; an average person. At least that’s how they see themselves and that’s the perspective from which the story is told. It begins describing their trivial and mundane life, until it unravels over the course of the EP, describing a violent downward spiral. We kept the imagery at the start of the record more benign, only to develop and slip further into rage by the end. The concept was loosely based on a crime that happened in Ireland.
We thought that Hunger was a fairly apt title to describe the desires and desperation felt by the protagonist. It also describes the hunger within us all, the hole that can’t filled and the thing that pushes us to experience and achieve new things.
Buy Hunger via Bandcamp.
1. Hunny Bunny
The most talked about lyric in this song (and possibly the whole EP) is definitely “I love you hunny bunny”. I think it resonates with people because the words aren’t what you’re expecting to hear in a song like this, so they kind of stand out as being odd or funny. Our booking agent told me that he literally burst out laughing the first time he heard it. This is the theme of the song though, it’s indicative of the character being described. Bursting with violence and rage, yet on the surface they are restrained, collected and seemingly ‘normal’.
We were keen to kick off the record with a lot energy and this is a fast track, so personally it felt like a no-brainer for an opener. It also features some of my favourite vocals on the whole EP. In terms of the guitar I remember rehearsing one of the riffs over and over, psyching myself out that I wouldn’t be able to nail it in the studio. Then getting in there and somehow locking it down on the first or second pass!
2. Pretty Secret
This song begins to unravel the protagonist. It deals with the transition from fantasy to reality. Their desires coming to the fore and their loose grip on what is real and what is delusion.
For me the first section in this track is all about the bass reverb. It swells and thunders underneath the guitars. There’s dissonance going on here in this track too, hinting at the instability and confusion in the mind of the story’s main character. The outro of this track features some really weird and disturbing noises that we recorded in the studio. We wanted the whole record to feel uncomfortable and purposefully set out to create a mood that represented that.
‘Exhume’ could have very easily ended up as the opening track, but we decided to keep it for later on in the record. After the sludgey feel at the end of ‘Pretty Secret’, this track kicks things up a notch. It begins with blastbeats, three guitars and Chris screaming, aiming to create a sonic wall of noise. Then it briefly drops down before ratcheting up again with a more punk/mathcore second half. I love playing the guitar parts at the end of this song, there’s just so much feedback and harsh noises as I essentially just beat the shit out of the instrument.
The lyrics begin to get more direct and the subject of our story is getting lost further in their sadistic thought and actions.
4. The Romantic
I do the vocals on this track and I was quite keen to try a new style as well as as a less personal approach to the lyrics.
The music and lyrics were probably the quickest of all the songs to come together. It’s just three riffs or something and I wrote the vocals in about 2 hours. But I think the end result was really quite effective. The guitars get noisier and more wild as the song progresses, despite it feeling a little more structured than the other tracks. There’s a big epic riff in the middle which to me feels weirdly dark yet almost triumphant at the same time. The protagonist feels confused by their delusions, unraveling and beginning to question who they are. Thinking that they’re ‘the romantic’, whereas the reality may be something far more sinister. Ed Gein comes to mind when I think about this song.
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