Friday, 2 December 2011

Review: Steak Number Eight - All is Chaos

 Belgian sludge-makers Steak Number Eight have been gathering up a lot of interest and noise as of late. This is due largely to the quirky yet doom-ridden yet captivating sludge metal that is found on their second release All Is Chaos, and fair enough really. If you like your stuff heavy and if you like your stuff trippy which makes you feel like your chilling out in the dark armchair of hell waiting for the world to end, then this is pretty much the best new place to look.

 As opener Dickhead throws readers into a a dwindling stoner rock influenced riff opening, you realize that these rowdy teenagers know a thing or two about making rock and roll with a rougher more distorted edge that carries a "don't-give-a-fuck" atmosphere about it as well as maintaining an atmosphere of doom. This idea of doom is further emphasized in Pyromaniac where things really slow down and provide a more melancholic atmosphere. This effectively makes Steak Number Eight sound the missing link between Mastodon and Isis making effective use of the types of rhythmic complexity and bleak imagery that these bands have thrived on throughout their career, as well as allowing for more moments of mellowness and ambiance and moments where such concepts are dropped in favour of pure rock and roll.
 However everything musically manages to add up to make this atmosphere of bleakness come into full shape. Be it in the sludgy riffs from Cis Deman on Black Fall, or the bass slapping on Stargazing from Jesse Surmont, these elements in their heaviness and down-tuning give the music the atmosphere of doom and terror the artist were clearly looking for.
 There are moments when this is not the case. The more straightforward The Calling has the qualities of Queens of the Stone Age meeting Crime in Stereo and just rocking out without any care of anyone else around them whilst Track Into the Sky takes things down a more uplifting path with it's heavy dream pop effect with an extra shoegaze influence which actually remains fairly mellow but grows heavier in a very subtle manner.
 Lyrically, there is an issue that many critics are picking up on regarding the lyrics to Dickhead which are as graceful and subtle as the title itself. ("But now you can suck my fucking cock/ you dickless motherfucker/ You can suck my dick if you don't like my shit.") It's hard to tell what the group were thinking there because the rest of the lyrics actually reveal a sense of vulnerability and extra bleakness within the group such as "Talking inside my head/ Tonight marry my death/ Vultures swarming within my mind/ Losing time." and "Sometimes I have to escape from it all/ And I know there's only one way and it's through you/ I would have followed you/ But I still walk in your tracks in the sky."
 The overall impression of this album is that despite the average age of Steak Number Eight being eighteen, the group sound a lot more mature than any other rising acts at the moment. They have a pure devotion to their music and the creating metal with a more artistic and gripping-you-by-the-throat quality about it and they're a bind who pretty much revel in doom and bleakness. So, if you're looking for an album filled with hatred, a state of emotional instability and impending doom with a more youthful and energetic edge, this is the album I would recommend. The music on this album is music that has been all the way to the depths of oblivion and back. All the music is... chaos.

 Steak Number Eight's All is Chaos is out now via PIAS.

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