Steak ‘Slab City’ CD/LP/DD 2014

Steak 'Slab City'This Steak is pretty well done. There. The obvious joke of this review has been done and we can move on with the good stuff.

So…Steak’s debut record, Slab City is pretty cool. That sounds a little dumb and generic, I know, but when a person listens to as much heavy rock as I do for as long as I have, I’m hardly ever blown away by any new bands or records like I was when I was a teenager. So what happens is, my standards lower just a smidge and what I want out these new experiences are solid, reliable, albums of riffs that are done with conviction and reverence. No one will ever make a Welcome To Sky Valley again, so at the very least, bands should TRY to be epic and if it doesn’t quite get there, I can still usually enjoy the effort and enthusiasm. That’s sort of where this record comes in. It’s not gonna change your outlook on life, but it’s certainly going to enhance your existence and give your Friday night a little more action.

Hailing from rainy-ass London, these four guys in Steak know what they like, know what they want to do, and do it. After a pair of EPs, Napalm Records releases their debut platter and, like I said, it’s pretty cool. Produced by Harper Hug, who’s worked with pioneers like Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri, Steak flew to the desert in Palm Springs, and for two weeks, recorded Slab City. All of the calculated efforts have been made to ensure Steak’s Slab City sound and feel like the band is from the cacti and dunes.

Coma starts out the record with a very Kyuss-esque intro and riff followed by a Clutch-style, caveman, lead guitar line. I use those proper nouns because their influences are obvious and blatant. And that’s okay because nothing is more frustrating than reading a band say that they’re influenced by Neurosis and then proceed to sound nothing like them. Steak’s influences include aforementioned Kyuss, Man’s Ruin era Alabama Thunder Pussy, Truckfighters, hell, all of Meteor City’s and Rise Above’s rosters! And that’s exactly how they sound. It’s simple, direct, and refreshing.

Liquid Gold has more desert-inspired riffage and tones. The tones and production are big too; not quite as laugh-out-loud huge as Truckfighter’s Mania record, but damn close. Lead singer, Kippa, has good delivery; sort of harkens to Craig Riggs (Roadsaw) or Johnny Throckmorton (original vocalist for ATP). Kippa’s voice is a little better than we’re used to hearing in this format and Steak knows which effects to use for maximum, well, effectiveness.

Pisser has more of the same, but also features John Garcia on vocals towards the backside of the track. It shouldn’t come as a surprise he’s included considering Steak take a piece from every band Garcia’s had and for those that are keeping score, that’s: Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida, Hermano, Vista Chino, and his solo act. While I’m not a huge fan of Garcia’s voice, it does sound fantastic in the space it’s given and he makes the most of his performance.

Quaaludes And Interludes provides respite from the constant blast of fuzz with a dreamscape of hollow feedback and low key guitars before Steak return to the job at hand. Roadhead would be at home as a bonus track on Orange Goblin’s Coup De Grace record. Hanoid features some fun accents and wailing guitar leads for the first time all record. I love a good solo and this track has some burning licks for sure. The record is pretty solid all the way through, but I’d say Hanoid is a standout.

It should also be noted that at this point, there are no surprises. This record is gonna burn and rage the rest of the side. However, rounding out the set is a tune called Old Timer D.W. After a goofy spoken intro, the band launches into a slide guitar, bluesy, jam that reminded me of Halfway To Gone. I’m usually critical of blues (as seen by my review of Child’s record for which I was crucified by their fans!) but I would’ve like to have heard a little more of this sort of thing through the album.

Lastly, the thing I like about this record, and this band for that matter, is they’re having fun. It’s tongue-in-cheek, unabashed, and totally rockin’. I’ve spun this album in my 1977 Dodge van as well as my 2012 Dodge Challenger RT and it was shit-near perfect. I enjoy records and bands where they have a clear objective and with their multi-release, DC Comics story, and giant, reliable riffing, Steak have earned its place at my table, er, in my record collection.

Label: Napalm Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp

Scribed by: Drew Fulton