According to the bastion of truth that is Wikipedia, a hookworm is ‘a parasitic nematode that lives in the small intestine of its host, which may be a mammal such as a dog, cat, or human’. A parasite, something that sucks the life out of whatever unfortunate host it happens to take residency in. That the Leeds based youngsters I’m seeing tonight have taken this moniker upon themselves is a bit strange, as they couldn’t be further from that description. Tonight they positively breathe life into the brilliant Soup Kitchen, putting on an incredible, absorbing, downright thrilling show to blast away this eternal winter we seem to be having.

Walking down the stairs to the Soup Kitchen basement, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it so full. Maybe it’s because it’s a Friday night, but I have a feeling it’s because word of mouth has been spreading about how brilliant Hookworms have been on their recent jaunt around the UK. They shuffle on stage, looking a little like awkward teenagers (they look so young, damn them), fiddling with their instruments, making final tweaks to the set up. Then singer MJ (the band are only known by their initials, to, you know, make you focus on the music…) removes his glasses and they launch into a sonic assault that doesn’t let up for the 45 minutes they play for. And assault is the only word I can use, they are so brutally, excitingly loud that it’s almost disorientating. Kicking off with (I think!) album opener ‘Away/Toward’, which is quite spacious and open on record, is now driven and claustrophobic, swirling constantly upwards towards its breath-taking, ear bursting conclusion…it’s stirring stuff indeed. No one is talking through the gig (maybe because it’s that loud there would be no point), everyone just stares at the stage mesmerised and entranced by the reverb drenched, all encompassing racket that is ‘Form and Function’, the highlight of a gig that has no troughs.

MJ’s vocals are almost unintelligible all night, but it doesn’t matter as his voice just blends into the mire of beautiful noise the band makes, becoming one of the instruments. The interludes of drone/feedback that make up tracks i, ii and iii on ‘Pearl Mystic’ provide brief respite from the punishing propulsion of the gig, but brief they are, as the band wind up for another round of howitzers. People seem to be labelling Hookworms as a psychedelic band, but I think they have much more in common with bands like Mogwai, Spacemen 3 and the driving rhythms of krautrock than anything like The Horrors new direction. The whole gig seems like it could collapse in on itself at any point, but the band hold it all together amazingly, and it ensures that this night in the dank of the Soup Kitchen basement is an early contender for gig of the year. Rousing, thrilling, electrifying, Hookworms don’t suck the life out of anything; they invigorate, excite and deafen in equal amounts.