Review Summary: Steak Number Eight progress nicely with their stunning blend of post-rock and sludge metal.
Steak Number Eight are a band with a lot of momentum gathering around them. The youngest ever winners of Humo's Rock Rally in 2008, the young Belgians have since been faced with relentless comparisons to the likes of Nirvana despite having a very different, more Isis inspired sound. While their first album went relatively unnoticed, Metal Hammer's giveaway of their sophomore effort "All Is Chaos" brought them to the attention of the UK and the youngsters have been slowly building an audience supporting numerous bands in the UK, including 2012's Razor Tour (their own headline tour was less successful with near empty venues being common). Now releasing their third album, "The Hutch", Steak Number Eight show signs of real maturity and are out to prove that they're ready for the big time.
Like "All Is Chaos", the album starts with songs that showcase the much more sludgy side to SN8's sound with Cryogenius and Black Eyed delivering pummelling riffs and a marked improvement in frontman Brent Vanneste's screams. The post-rock atmospherics begin to kick in from Phototonic and the 6 and a half minute Push / Pull (in which vocals don't kick in until at least half way through) in a fairly similar pattern to the album structure of "All Is Chaos" (start heavy, have some post-rock tracks, heavy again in the middle (see Exile Of Our Marrow), before returning to the post-rock style at the end). The band don't seem to be trying anything new much here but instead are looking to build on what they already have, and this works well for them as their previous releases show that they're on the right path and they have the a good degree of progression on each album as they perfect the sound they want to make.
Overall I can't really find much negative to say about this album except for the fact that the structure is very similar to that of their last release. But as I loved their last album this doesn't bother me in the slightest and the tracks themselves still retain a good degree of unpredictability in of themselves, with the eclectic Pilgrimage Of A Black Heart being a standout track. That said, if you don't like having particularly long tracks then this won't be the album for you. The tracks go on for typically about 5-7 minutes so the lengthy passages won't settle too well for those lacking the attention span or desire to sit through these lengthy post-sludge tracks, especially in the slower tracks, for example in Slumber, which drifts along steadily, and Rust, which clocks in at over 8 minutes in length as the - although things do get rather interesting towards the end of the track.
All in all, though, if this is your sort of music then you'll love this album. The band are further developing their blend of post-rock and sludge metal and keep the listener on their toes, particularly in the heavier tracks. Even if it's not really your muse, I still suggest giving it a go. SN8 are doing phenomenally well for such a young band, they're just beginning to break out of Belgium and they're set for plenty of success in the near future. I can't wait to see some of this stuff played live.
Album picks: Cryogenius, Pilgrimage of a Black Heart, Exile of Our Marrow, Tearwalker.