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Steak Number Eight, The Smoking Hearts, Slimzee at The Relentless Garage Review

Steak Number Eight, The Smoking Hearts and Zodiac N Black live at the Upstairs Garage, May 4.

It's a pretty small room upstairs at the Garage, but there wasn't as many moments of awkward silence between songs and time spent staring at my feet as I had anticipated. Belgian post-metal/rock quartet Steak Number Eight could have just been dismissed as a bunch of kids (because really, the band's average age is 18), but when they strapped on and plugged in, the sound was polished, mature and ballsy.

Warming up the crowd was Zodiac N Black - straight up hard rock and heavy metal. I couldn't tell if they had been around for an achingly long time on the scene or just recently-formed and banging out fresh tunes. It worked to their advantage though, with the Queens of the Stone Age-meets-Sabbath et al sound filtering through to the 50-odd people present for their set. Their music is a sign that the old school is alive and well.

The Smoking Hearts brought in a total change of pace and style. They wanted the crowd to mosh and shout along, but all they got was polite applause and a few clap-alongs. They did have to settle for head-bobbing by the end of it. Compared to the previous band, they still had the same level of catchiness except it's in a style reminiscent of Cancer Bats and Every Time I Die.

I'm repeating myself here, but as much as they might want to escape it, Steak Number Eight really are as young as they're made out to be. But the music truly changes all those perceptions. They opened with "The Sea is Dying", the echoes of their post-metal beginnings, and followed it up with "Black Fall" from their sophomore album ‚"All in Chaos". Despite a change in sound between the two albums, the highlight of the show was their ability to plough through heavy ones such as "On the Other Side", "Pyromaniac" and their anthemic lead single "Dickhead" and the more brooding performances of "Track into the Sky", "The Perpetual" and "Stargazing" in alternation.

They came back for an encore in an overdose of fog filling up the small room. With almost every hand in the crowd seen raised, vocalist/guitarist Brent Vanneste was all smiles by the end of it. The turnout made it seem like a homely house party they had put on for friends. But this crowd had the privilege of listening to an intense set with every beat, note, riff and scream being spot on. Steak Number Eight got to go on their first ever headlining UK tour, and they're not disappointing anyone.

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Review - Anurag Tagat

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