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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YUR MUM – Ellipsis EP

A few seconds into this 2019 EP from London based two-piece rock band Yur Mum, it becomes evident that first impressions most definitely do not apply. ‘What Do You Want?’ wastes no time in cranking a huge riff – part 90s metal, part stoner rock – that makes the band sound like a cross between Godsmack and the heaviest parts of Shinedown. It’s most definitely not what you’d expect from a band who’ve decided that a moniker like Yur Mum best represents them. As the track progresses with a mid-paced, absolute crusher of a riff – something that’s brilliantly juxtaposed with Anelise Kunz’s howling and almost brattish vocal – you’ll soon realise that, despite appearances, these guys are serious. …And then, with a teeny bit more time to acclimatise to their heavy sound, you’ll then realise that the brilliant, groove laden riffs have enough force and volume to take on a full spectrum of moods. Nope, this is certainly not the work of a band whom, in name terms, might have you believe they were a teen pop-punk phenomenon.

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EVIL OWL – Evil Owl EP

Not to be confused with the independent progressive rock band from Finland, the UK Evil Owl are hard, retro and grubby. On their self-titled EP from 2018, this Bristolian trio take the garage rock base of Brockley Forest and load it with the kind of distortion and arty noise that fuelled the Sonic Youth classics ‘Sister’ and ‘Evol’ and throw in a few influences from Mudhoney and Tad for good measure. The result is a genuine blast of guitar driven anger – four songs with a retro heart but also loaded with a timeless, fuzzy appeal.

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