Japan is a country with a very different culture from the western countries. Its exports can sometimes be weird and unique, like some of the available varieties of KitKat chocolate bars. You either love them or hate them, but sometimes they can be truly amazing. Strangely enough there are quite a few great stoner doom bands coming from Japan, and the female duo BlackLab from Osaka is one of those great exports.
BlackLab have been around since 2012, and released their first feature length album last year. That album was “Under The Strawberry Moon”, which saw only a limited number of CDs printed for the Japanese market and sold out. Now, that same album has been completely remixed to the point that it makes the original sound like a cheap demo tape recorded at a dusty garage. Guitars have a lot more fuzz and the drums sound clearer and heavier. It’s version 2.0, created specifically for the release of the album through New Heavy Sounds, and it’s the version it deserved to have been from the start.
Initially you wouldn’t necessarily pick up on the fact that this is a Japanese band, other than for the lyrics being sang in Japanese. The band’s cultural influences lend themselves in a more subtle way. The music is a typically doom sound, but those subtleties are what makes it so great to listen to. An example of the greatness that is BlackLab is the song “Symptom Of The BlackLab”, a song that is a nod to Black Sabbath’s classic “Symptom Of The Universe”. It begins with the iconic guitar riff of the original and fools you into thinking that it is going to be a cover, but quickly turns into something of their own: a furious instrumental track of pure fuzzy goodness, groovy riffs and beats. Throughout the album, vocals range from a clean psychedelic tone to frantic growls. Instrumentally, there is something for different crowds as well, ranging from the quiet, slow tempo experimental to the fast-paced drum heavy stuff of mosh pits and headbanging.
The album will be out on the 20th of July through New Heavy Sounds as a limited edition black/orange vinyl, as well as CD and digital formats. The limited edition vinyl release also includes the CD version and digital download. Both vinyl and CD formats are now available for pre-order here.
Review by Luís Rodrigues
Managing Editor: Filipe Gomes