BlackLab are a sludge, doom and fuzz metal duo from Japan. Their album ‘Under The Strawberry Moon’ was released in 2017 in a very limited pressing. Recognising their potential to appeal to an overseas audience, UK indie label New Heavy Sounds remixed the album, beefing up the overall sound and subsequently gave it a broader distribution. The resulting ‘Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0’ isn’t just heavy. It isn’t just doomy. It’s positively devastating.
We’ve reached the end of 2015. It hasn’t been as thrilling a year for new music as 2014 had been, but there has been plenty to entertain. We’re still waiting on the proposed deluxe edition of Prince & The Revolution’s classic ‘Purple Rain’ (we could be waiting a long time) and those promised UB40 deluxe editions. Another year has passed without the arrival of Real Gone favourite Mick Terry’s second album. Lots of people in the UK have been (over)-excited by Steven Wilson’s ‘Hand.Cannot.Erase.’, but most of what’s impressed us the most at Real Gone – as is so often the case – is often just a little more underground.
Here are our year’s top picks…
At the beginning of the second quarter of 2014, British doom rockers Limb unleashed their self-titled debut LP. An uncompromising barrage of heavy riffs and gravelly vocals, the London based quartet announced their arrival in a most unsubtle manner and although they were outshone by labelmates Black Moth in terms of doomy goodness, the elpee set them up as a force to be reckoned with and a band upon which everyone should keep a close eye. The subsequent live shows demonstrated an almost boundless fury: aside from their capabilities to bring the noise, one other thing was pretty certain – the next time around, Limb would drop an absolutely killer release.
In 2011 Leeds-based stoner metal merchants Black Moth unveiled their debut album ‘The Killing Jar’, an excellent riff-based affair that impressed on first listen and thrilled on each subsequent play. The result was one of the year’s best metal releases. With their US equivalent Ruby The Hatchet releasing a strong and similarly themed debut the following year and Earthless releasing a giant, sprawling double set ‘From The Ages’ in 2013, the standard for doom and stoner grooves remained at an impressive high, thus giving Black Moth much to live up to upon their return.
Delivering four songs in approximately 47 minutes, the 2014 release from London-based doom/dark psych rockers Transmaniacon is not for the faint of heart. Housed in a sleeve depicting a desolate post-apocalyptic horizon dominated by robots (expertly conceived by artist Ian Miller), part epic hard rock, part concept album, ‘The Darkening Plain’ is a both a frightening and frighteningly grand work, especially aimed at those who love things from the fuzzier and (occasionally) less heavy end of the doom rock spectrum.