Blacklab’s debut album ‘Under The Strawberry Moons’ was – and remains – a brilliantly intense listen. By taking classic stoner and doom riffs and layering them with distortion, the noise making duo hit upon a sound that fused elements of Acid King and Boris with the ugly sonic textures of Melvins. By then layering that with extra distortion and adding a semi-detached, distinctly Japanese vocal, the album became bigger than the sum of its parts; a sludgy yet strangely alluring listen that really raised the bar for massive, dark – and sometimes ugly – riffs.
Their follow up, 2020’s ‘Abyss’, flaunted a slightly different guitar tone in places, but didn’t skim on the intensity. In toning down the bass in more than a few places, it actually made Blacklab seem even more uncompromising as they continued to wheel out their massive slabs of distortion. Also by cranking the speed in a couple of places (as with ‘Forked Road’, one of the record’s stand out tracks), it showed the band as being capable of tackling some seriously intense garage punk, which provided a superb counterpart to their doom laden core.
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.
BlackLab’s 2018 album ‘Under Strawberry Moons’ really pushed the limits of how much noise a duo could make. Their long-awaited follow up, ‘Abyss’ (due for release digitally on 8th April) presents the band in an even noisier frame of mind, if anything, sharing heavy riffs that are so distorted that you might even believe your speakers have blown.
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.