Album Review: Stake – Critical Method

Near Flanders Fields were poppies blow, Steak Number Eight got together when the members were just 12 years old. They won a prestigious rock music contest in their native Belgium when they were just 15. Their tender ages did not make for a softened sound; their DIY debut record was heavy enough to be recognised in metal circles, leading to their sophomore album being released by Metal Hammer in the UK. Stake

Fast forward 10 years and the band were selling out the biggest venues in Belgium, and supporting heavyweights like Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan, and Deftones. However, it was time for a darker rebrand so they went for the name Stake. Their new release under that moniker shows they’ve kept their hardcore fire and ire – and they’re heading to the UK to prove it!
November 18, 2019: Hare & Hounds, Birmingham
November 19, 2019: The Social, London
November 21, 2019: Mother’s Ruin, Bristol

Prepare to have your senses well and truly assailed in such intimate rooms as Stake play tracks from their latest album, Critical Method.

The eponymous opening track is a case in point: it opens with heavy drums, distortion, a low growl and then vocalist Brent Vanneste screaming “hey, stay the fuck out of my way.” The chorus nods to Deftones with a more melodic approach.

The lead single continues that furious/melancholic vocal mix that proved so successful in the scene’s heyday in the early 2000s. The band explained that existential conflict inspired the song; it’s about the constant urge to connect with our deepest self, and the “indefinable anger that comes with never achieving it.”

Careless seems tailor made for the live show, all ready for metallers to chant “I don’t get you/I’ll just forget you” while losing themselves in a blur of limbs and hair in the pit.

Human Throne starts out tender but the buzzing instrumentation that rises in the mix clues us in that something more rich and expansive is coming. By the end, it’s vivid and livid.

Catatonic Dreams is reminiscent of a digital bark before some solid drumming and more annihilating vocals from Vanneste take over.

Devolution has a more standard rock chord progression and even a dreamy intro sound. It’s a lighters-in-the-air slow burn, and well worth repeat listening.

The slow pace of Devolution makes Stake’s return to hyper-speed and full volume even more impactful in Doped Up Salvations.

The seven minute epic Eyes For Gold is a welcome reprise of the psychedelic metal sound of Devolution. Musically, it has shades of Danny Elfman’s Batman score. What a way to end a short but powerful album. If you’re into metal with a bit of nuance, it’s definitely worth giving a go.

Critical Method is due out on Hassle Records on November 1 on CD, vinyl, digital streaming and download. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission to help keep this site running if you click the image below to buy it. Thank you!

Stake CD

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