Steak Number Eight: The Hutch

Belgian post-sludgers get under the skin

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When Steak Number Eight released their debut record, the little heard When The Candles Die Out, the quartet were barely out of nappies – an average age of 15 – and they were barely out of their teens when its follow-up, All Is Chaos, ruined eardrums across the country (courtesy of a Hammer promotion) yet, bar the odd juvenile lyrical lapse, their particular brand of sludge-heavy post-metal and grunge-grazing metal exuded a level of maturity that belied their years.

Now they’re older and wiser, and although in a stylist sense The Hutch picks up where its predecessor left off, it is a darker, less immediately bludgeoning and altogether more insidious beast.

While veering headlong into Isis and Russian Circles territory with oceanic cascades of repetitive, contorting guitars, soaring melody and pulsating dynamic shifts on tracks like the elegiac Push/Pull and the thunderous The Shrine, the youthful energy remains on the likes of Black Eyed, with its brittle, Amenra-esque stab of guitars and anguished screams.

This time their attack is less about teen antagonism and angst and more about masterfully handled, darkly melancholic journeys.