BLACKLAB – Abyss

BlackLab’s debut album ‘Under The Strawberry Moon’ was devastatingly heavy. With an under-produced and over-driven sound, the Japanese duo truly raised the bar in terms of fuzzy stoner riffs. The album didn’t reach a wide audience upon its first release, but a restructured and remixed version (released via the UK’s New Heavy Sounds label in 2018) went some way to giving the band an audience outside of their home country and received some really enthusiastic press.

Naturally, their minimalist set up of drums, guitars, vocals and three thousand distortion pedals never really allowed for a broad musical palate, so their sophomore disc ‘Abyss’ offers much more of the same, but if Blacklab appealed to you before, more of the same is exactly what you’d hope for… If anything is a little different, you might even say BlackLab have become even heavier and more intense, as ‘Abyss’ is a genuine skull-crusher.

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STONE MACHINE ELECTRIC – Stone Machine Electric

To move forward, sometimes it’s important to take stock of the current situation and go back to the past. On this two track 7”, Texan doom duo Stone Machine Electric revisit the first songs they ever wrote together and in doing so go back as far as possible. Both tracks have been previously available, but this release marks their vinyl debut.

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WIZARD RIFLE – Wizard Rifle

Wizard Rifle are a two piece noise rock band from Portland, Oregon. They began thrilling (and terrifying) audiences in 2010. This self titled release from 2019 is their first for Svart Records (home to Witch Mountain, Harvest, Brutus and various bands with Scandinavian sounding names), but despite making the leap from DIY recordings to signing a cult metal oriented label with a keen fan-base, Wizard Rifle haven’t become any more commercial. Their self titled record features just five tracks, but within those lengthy arrangements you’ll find sections of music which seem bolted together and huge slabs of music created from mangled riffs and sludgy sounds. Always with an ear on sculptures more than songs, it’s tiring…but also brilliant. Hearing Wizard Rifle for the first time is like experiencing Buzz Osborne from Melvins jamming with the now defunct That Fucking Tank while disturbed people shout randomly. With every listen after that, something new comes through; new noises, new howls of pain…but you’ll never forget that initial experience. And it is an experience.

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AUTUMNWIND – Endless Fear

Autumnwind isn’t really a band; it’s a huge musical vision where its founder, Abdulrahman Abu Lail writes and plays everything. He uses this one man band as a vehicle for emotional outpouring, in his own words, as a way of “mind-describing” his own feelings through intensive music. This third album makes that theory even clearer by giving its five pieces of music titles which reflect emotive states. The results, as expected, are very heavy, though never so confrontational you’d struggle to listen or, indeed, want to shut off the feelings that Abdulrahman is keen to share.

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MORAG TONG – Last Knell Of Om

At the beginning of 2016, London based doom/sludge quartet Morag Tong released their debut EP ‘Through Clouded Time’. It received some very enthusiastic responses online and in it’s wake, the band were able to increase their profile through extensive live work. A follow up wasn’t especially quick in coming, but just one listen to 2018’s ‘Last Knell of Om’ reveals why. The band seemingly weren’t intent on just hacking out more of the same when it came to making a full length release. The album really delivers on previous musical ideas, but also takes the longer playing time to experiment with a few more progressive and space rock tendencies than before.

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