ARTIST: STEAK NUMBER EIGHT
LABEL : PIAS RECORDINGS
RELEASE DATE : 6 NOVEMBER 2015
Renowned for their obscure name and successes seven years ago at the mere collective age of 15, Belgian post-rock, sludge-metal quartet Steak Number Eight are under much pressure to deliver an album excelling their well received predecessing album The Hutch. Before tackling Kosmokoma, understand it’s vision and style is better understood with the curtains drawn or on a dark, wintery day.
The first half of Kosmokoma is, for the most part, riddled with a seemingly doom and gloom temperament and would be more than fitting to listen to as an apocalypse of some kind dawns (or less dramatically, perhaps a rainy afternoon). While it’s predominantly an album showcasing maturity in both age and musicianship, the over abundance of spiralling post-rock riffs leaves a real post-metal kick to be desired – something track ‘Charades’ gives us a brief glimpse of. Yet this shouldn’t be a deterrent; perhaps instead focus on Steak Number Eight’s capability for creating such atmospheric post-rock layers in tracks such as ‘Gravity Giants’, or the impressive blend of post-rock crescendos interspersed with sludge melodies in track ‘Your Soul Deserves To Die Twice’ – because after all, it is an impressively eclectic mix.
No doubt some may argue that the album truly begins at ‘Charades’, which showcases better Vanneste’s vocal diversity – alongside later tracks ‘Claw It In Your Eyes’ and ‘Cheating The Gallows’ – with both his grunge infused chanting and convicted growls leading such gripping tracks with palpable bite. While it’s the climactic post-rock elements that are so strongly associated with Steak Number Eight, more of these hard hitting walls of confident riffage like those of these tracks would not go amiss.
The quality of Kosmokoma is not something that should even be questioned, each track being sublimely crafted. There are no half-hearted tracks used as fillers to flesh the album out; none of those ‘softer’ tracks typically found in albums to act as an interlude of sorts. Each track and musical process has been well thought out and nurtured. You learn that perhaps the Isis-esque first half of Kosmokoma, in all it’s melancholy, acts as a steady opening while the more Mastodon second half is riveting in all it’s post-metal glory. Steak Number Eight have undoubtedly matured.
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