Album Review: Skyhill – Run With The Hunted

Skyhill was a Brooklyn based electronic/synth outfit formed by vocalist Dan Avidan and Guitarist and Keyboardist, Peter Lennox back in 2006. During live shows they fleshed out their sound with Zach Hagen on Bass and Backing Vocals, Elena Belan on Keyboard and Backing vocals and Mr. X on Drums. According to Dan, who responded to some fans on the Skyhill Reddit community, the name Skyhill was already established prior to him joining the band, Peter had already been putting out music under that name beforehand. Their choice to use the wolf as their logo was apparently in response to them going the independent route to create, release and promote their work and so they were very much a ‘lone wolf’ in the music industry, you can find the full quote on reddit by clicking here.

Sadly, Skyhill went into a permanent hiatus in 2008 after touring New York together. This would not be the end of the group however, they returned to release the single ‘Firefly’ on October 7th 2015 and you can check out my review of that here. They went back into hiatus as a group until October 30th 2020 when they released another single ‘Howling at the Moon’ and you can check out what I thought of that here. But today I will be reviewing their self released debut album ‘Run with the Hunted’ which was released on May 16th 2007.

‘Hands On The Water’ has a high energy, trilling intro that builds on itself with a heavier percussion, both blending together to make a really rich audio experience. It keeps that energy, and as Dan’s vocals join the instrumental backing, he really takes off. He delivers the lyrics, with a fast paced heat that really works for the track. Having heard the vocalist before, I’ve never heard this side to his voice, and I’m glad I got to experience it. Overall, this track has a fabulous raw vibe to it and It’s a great opener to the band’s debut album. 

‘Different Frequencies’ slows things down just a touch, a heavier, hammering percussion with electronic notes blended throughout that juxtapose that with more speed and energy, the complex musical harmonies blend and that’s all before Dan has a chance to sing. It would be hard to follow such a solid track as ‘Hands On the Water’ and while it’s hard to compare them as ‘Different Frequencies’ is so different, I think it really keeps things going. I especially like the heavy blaring of strings, percussion and the electronic elements about half way through, it gives the track more weight. 

‘Black & White’ opens with a blend of percussive beats and hard and fast chords that really sweep you away. This opening number had energy, but this track just hammers forward. Avidan’s vocals match the intensity, which also slightly tempers it with the more melodic nature of his voice. Going into the 2 minute mark the track doubled down on the synthy, electronic elements, almost capturing a dance tune vibe, and it actually really works, the whole thing explodes before you, energy and passion and intensity. I think this track takes the top spot for me on this album. 

‘Afterglow’ opens with a sustaining tone, building on it with an almost lullaby melody, it’s soothing and sonorous and slows things down a touch after the last track. That’s not to say it loses anything, just that it takes a breather and gives us another side to the band. I was actually listening to this track when the clock turned midnight and I officially turned 27, so all things considered not bad for a birthday tune. Also tracks like this I think work best with Dan’s natural voice, and as such he is superb in this track. 

‘Only One’ kicks things back up a notch, a heavier, bassy driven track with some fabulous electronic backing that creates a song that just builds sweetly, blending in the softer tones of the vocals with heavier percussive elements to create a song with a little bit of a kick to it. I really liked this one, I think it’s right behind ‘Black & White’ for me in terms of my favourite entries to this album. The softer, almost orchestral bits about two minutes in were just perfection. 

‘Glass Doors’ strikes a balance off the bat between the past couple tracks, not too fast to begin with and not too slow, instead using a nice blend of keys and bass, to float us through the opening, with the track building and speeding up as it progresses. I don’t know exactly what it is about this track in particular but something about the blend of instrumentals is just the perfect storm, supporting Dan’s vocals and making him sound as good as he’s ever sounded. Also this track had a simple but wonderful piano interlude about halfway through that I just loved. 

The City As You Walk’ is just a really chilled out melody, light percussion and various electronic components that just built a soft landing pad to support Dan’s vocals which excel against such an instrumental backdrop. I have been led to believe that with all the hustle and bustle that New York isn’t exactly a calming city to walk around it, but this track is certainly relaxed while still finding its own unique drive and energy throughout. It was a real treat to listen to as we move onto the final few tracks on what has been an incredible album. Also I might be mistaken but I think I heard some horns, subtly blending in and adding to the milieu. 

‘Storms Of September’ has an atmospheric quality in keeping with the title of the track, blending in light, quick fire, percussion with heavier, slower beats and a fast paced guitar line that all come together, merging into each other to create a really fun track, that’s just as chilled out as the previous one, but with more focus and energy. I also liked that it reached a sort of subtle climax that incorporated keys and vocals in, surprising and catching you off guard as it picks up for the latter part of the track. 

‘Black & White (Reprise)’ is a solid follow up to ‘Black & White’ which I’ve already said was a highlight on this album for me. It’s a nice, melodic tune that takes a quicker, percussive undertone, and combines it with a slower, overarching atmospheric tone. I really like how a lot of the tracks play around with the fast and slow, counterpointing the melody to create something that’s interesting to listen to. 

‘Run With The Hunted’ is not only the title track of the album but also the closer, so it has a lot of pressure to be good and it does not disappoint, opening with a sustained, heavy chord, almost building a sense of dread and foreboding. Fleshed out by the rich strings of both the bass and guitar, and layered on top was a heavier percussion which just brought it all together. So the album ends with a high energy track, one which has a lot going on, not too busy, but almost too busy, and it works well for it, you get audibly complex sections intermixed with more simple one to create a nice balance. Also out of all of the tracks, this one has a hook which sticks in your head the most. 

So that’s what I thought of Skyhill’s album ‘Run with the Hunted’ and if you want to check that out for yourself then head on over to Spotify. Also make sure and check out their website for more information on the band, and any future releases. 

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