Friday, 12 August 2022

UP IN SMOKE FESTIVAL 2022 News And Line Up

Hey friends, we're absolutely stoked to present you the majority of bands for our beloved Up In Smoke Festival!

Get ready for three days of heavy psychedelic, stoner rock and doom at the Konzertfabrik Z7 in Pratteln, Switzerland!

Check out the line-up below and grab your tickets fast!
Hope to see you there

Your SOL Crew

Cape Town's Ethyl Ether reveal the video for their new single Field Of Shadows

South African Psychedelic Rock and Roll band Ethyl Ether release shoegaze dream rock masterpiece, Field Of Shadows. The track is taken from their forthcoming studio album Violent Entertainment and follows the bands SAMA (South African Music Awards) nominated 2021 release Chrome Neon Jesus. Ethyl Ether draw from a deep well of musical inspiration painting a heady palette of blues, shoegaze, stoner, psychedelia, and classic rock 'n roll.

“We wanted to make a song that everyone could relate to for different reasons, leaving the lyrics and instrumentation open to individual interpretation” – Ethyl Ether

Buy //Stream Field Of Shadows out now on Mongrel Records:


Tuesday, 9 August 2022

An Interview With Yuko Morino from BlackLab

Japanese Doomsters BlackLab have made a great impression on me with their last two acclaimed albums (Under The Strawberry Moon and Abyss) within the underground scene. Their heavy blend of Doom/Stoner Metal that is fueled by Punk Rock, Psych Rock and Sludge Rock vibes.

BlackLab which is made up of members Yuko Morino (Guitar/Vocals) and Chio Shirarishi (Drums) are one of the most refreshing bands to come from the Japanese Doom Metal Scene.

The band are about to release their excellent third album In A Bizarre Dream on August 19th 2022 via New Heavy Sounds. 

I caught up with Yuko to discuss the formation of the band, evolution of their sound and making of their new album.

Read on for a great interview.

Hi there. How’s it going? Thanks for doing the interview.

I am the one who should thank you. I'm Yuko the singer/guitarist of BlackLab. We're so excited to be able to release our third album to the world.

For folks not in the know, can you advise how the band came together where it is today?

BlackLab was formed in 2012. When I first formed this band it was a three-piece band. One or two years after, the bassist left the band. But, instead of looking for a new bassist, I chose to play the both sounds of guitar and bass by myself. In this way, the band became a duo. We have been active in Osaka all the time. No records were released when it was a three-piece band.

How would you describe your music in your own words?

That question always makes me wonder. Umm, how about this? Rock music with hardcore punk, psych, occult rock, and stoner rock thrown into one pot, simmered in doom metal bouillon, and spiced with grunge.

We’re here to talk about your stunning new album In A Bizarre Dream. What can people expect for this album?

Our previous albums had a lot of raw, indie/lo-fi flavour. It can be said that this has succeeded in making a strong impression on people. I'm sure the next album will be a step up from that realm. This is mainly reflected in sound quality. Overall, this album is packed with the music we want to express right now, our current maximum performance skills, and our current maximum recording technology.

What is the new album all about and why did you call the album In A Bizarre Dream?

This album includes tracks in a wide variety of genres such as fast-paced hardcore punk and desert rock, heavy metalcore, mid-tempo doom metal, and abstract, lyrical alternative rock. However, there is a sense of unity in the atmosphere that covers all of them. Regarding album title "In A Bizarre Dream", like the previous work "Abyss", I saw the draft of the cover art and was inspired by it to come up with the title. It seemed to me that the seated old man in the center of the cover art of this album was having a strange dream. And I thought the word "bizarre" was more appropriate than "strange" for the effect added to the image. We love this title.

This is quite a different album compared to your previous albums. With perhaps being more Punk Rock and Experimental on this album. Was that the plan to write and record something different to your debut release?

The previous two albums contained gloomy and extremely long songs. I think this was the right choice for our musical expression at each point in time.

However, when planning the production of this album, I thought I'd increase the number of songs a little more and balance the whole to express the breadth of our music that is not limited to doom/stoner rock. I'm sure this attempt went well.

What were the recording sessions like for the new album? Was this a hard album to write and record for?

We and our label talked about seeking more sophistication in creating this album. We had to make a recording that would make it happen. Before going to recording, as a preparation, we had a thorough discussion with our recording engineer Jun, about the direction and method. And, we've never done pre-production recording before, but this time we did. This was very helpful. Due to these, the recording went smoothly.

The album was originally planned to be released before Desertfest in May 2022. According to that schedule, we had to finish the recording at the end of 2021. So I couldn't devote so much time to writing songs. But, COVID restrictions gave me time to create. (The Japanese restaurant I work for was forced to close for a total of three months during the COVID pandemic.)

And, we usually put no restrictions on the expression of music for the purpose of establishing it as an album. It's not difficult for me to write more and more songs if I can immerse myself in it. I want to thank to that we have been able to overcome some difficulties with the label that lets us act freely and the unity of our team.

Did you do anything different when recording album compared to your debut?

In recording this album, we focused on recording sound materials more clearly. In our previous works, I brought the guitar amp cabinet to the recording booth and recorded it like a live show, but this time, as many other bands, we put the guitar amp cabinet in a separate room from the recording booth. However, there is no change in the method of playing each instrument at the same time.

In addition to this, we tried improvisation recording for the first time, on a short instrumental track. Drummer Chia played the new unique percussion instrument called Steel Tongue Drum -Sazanami- on this track. The sound of that is also included in the interlude part of "Crows, Sparrows and Cats".

Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab) appears on this album with the track Crows, Sparrows and Cats. How did that collaboration come about. As I would never imagined that type of collaboration would work. Though it's a brilliant and magically diverse track.

Paul Cox from New Heavy Sounds made us the proposal for this collaboration. He used to run the Too Pure label in the 90's. As you know, Too Pure is an independent label that has released records such as Stereolab and P.J. Harvey. So he has a relationship with Laetitia. When I first heard the proposal, I was surprised by that crazy plan. But on the other hand I was very stoked to it. 

Paul played our two previous albums to Laetitia and got approval for the collaboration. I was surprised that she agreed to sing. What an amazing thing. After that, I immediately started writing the song for the collaboration. I like Stereolab enough to make it part of my band's name, so I had no hesitation in incorporating the Krautrock elements of Stereolab into my own song. The melody and lyrics came to mind easily, and I finished writing the song in two or three days. I am proud that this is really a collaboration.

What was working with Laetitia Sadier like.

As soon as the song was written, we recorded a demo of it and sent it to her. We had planned to add her vocals to it after we had finally recorded the backing track. But she unexpectedly sent me a vocal track that matched the demo. Because of this, we had to record a backing track to match that vocal track. The tempo of the demo track was not constant, so wrote I the clicks on her vocals and then we played to the clicks. Surprisingly, this seems to have had a positive effect on us to concentrate on the performance. Anyway, when I first heard the vocals that she sent, I was moved by the power of her expression.

Your previous two albums impressed a lot of people within the Doom/ Stoner Rock underground scene. Did the response to that album surprise you both?

I think that's largely due to the work of New Heavy Sounds. We couldn't spread our music to the world just by ourselves. We are very grateful that New Heavy Sounds found us. Many people say that our music will be favored by overseas listeners. But we were surprised that the response from overseas fans was better than we had imagined.

New Heavy Sounds are releasing your new album again. It's great BlackLab are continuing that relationship once more. How did you become involved with that great label?

The beginning of this wonderful relationship was that we posted a link to bandcamp of our first self released album "Under The Strawberry Moon" on several doom / stoner metal communities of Facebook. Paul from New Heavy Sounds saw it and got interested and contacted us. He asked if he could play our song on his radio show Artrocker Radio. Of course we found no reason to refuse it. New Heavy Sounds then proposed a plan to release the remix album "Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0". This was the beginning to our great journey to the world.

Who writes all the lyrics for BlackLab. Is this a group effort or down to certain individuals?

The lyrics of all songs are written by me. As many other bands, we share the role of each. Writing English lyrics is a bit hard to me because I'm not very good at English. But I enjoy that. Google translation is my lifeline ha ha.

Who and what influenced your lyrics for the new album?

I usually write the vocal melody after the backing track is complete, and finally the lyrics. I wrote the songs for this album in the same way. It's not often that someone or something in particular influences my lyrics. My usual method is to derive the lyrics from images and scenes that come to mind from the written backtrack. Sometimes it's a scene from a movie or manga I've seen in the past, or it's my own past experience. For example, when I wrote the lyrics for "Monochrome Rainbow", I remembered the feeling I had when I passed out in the past (by concussion or something), and exaggerated my imagination from there.

The album cover is superb. Who designed the artwork and how much input did you have into the final design?

Thanks. However to be honest, I’m not sure if this album cover can make a good impression on people. Because it has a bit of a weird feel to it. But I think that attractive things usually have a bit of a weird vibe to them. This is, Ged the owner of New Heavy Sounds edited a photo taken by our sound engineer Jun. The basis of the idea is what I imagined.

Will you be touring and promoting the new album in the coming months at home or abroad?

We're going to have one album launch gig in September over here Osaka. And after that, two in October and two in November in Tokyo, Osaka and Gifu. There are no plans for overseas tours at the moment. I hope we could go on tour, around next year.

How did you get involved with music. Was it a particular album, group or artist that made you want to write and play your own music?

I started playing electric guitars when I was twenties. That's pretty late compared to a lot of musicians, isn't it? At the invitation of a work colleague, I started a copy band with her and her friends. We were playing songs from the Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Beatles, Japanese indie bands, etc. At that time I was in charge of vocals in the band. Later the guitarist left the band and I became a guitarist. I continued that band for several years as a hobby. 

A few years later, I formed a hardcore punk band with Chia and a bassist, and started band activities in earnest. I started writing songs in that band. That's when I was in my late twenties. I have known Chia for a very long time. When I was writing songs for that band, I was influenced a lot by Helmet, Faith No More, Soundgarden, etc. I still love these 90's iconic bands.

What is the current state of the Japanese Underground Rock/Metal scene. Do you have perform gigs on a regular basis and do you have a local scene that your actively involved with?

We only have regular gigs in Osaka, but there are bands with deep connections in Tokyo, Kyoto, Gifu and Shikoku, Kyushu region etc. They are mainly doom/stoner rock bands, but their genres are wide-ranging such as hardcore punk, new school metal, noise music, etc. They often invite us to play with them at their local gigs.

Both of players and listeners of Japanese underground Rock/Metal scene are aging. This may be true for other countries as well, though. Until the 90's, rock and metal were youth culture, but now it became to the middle-ages who were young people at the time stuff. 

However, among the children whose parents are such Rock/Metal people, it seems that there are a few young people who are attracted to Rock/Metal because of their influence. Around me, there are fans and players in their 20s who really love metal music. We sometimes perform with them at live shows, so I think it would be nice if we could stimulate each other. Also, I feel that the Japanese Rock/Metal scene has become polarized into overground and underground, and that has gone from popular culture to more subculture in Japan. 

But I think there is also the positive side of showbiz-like Rock/Metal music being weeded out and the underground scene being better formed. I think that the underground scene will be more active over here due to these things.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans currently out there?

Thanks for listening to me. Please forgive me if there're parts that are difficult to understand due to my imperfect English.

We want thank to folks who has supported us since our debut, folks who liked us seeing us for first time at Desertfest, and everyone who picks up this album and listens. 

Please play this as loud as possible. Let's have a bizarre dream with us!

Words by Steve Howe and Yuko Morino

Thanks to Simon at For The Lost PR for arranging this interview and thanks to Yuko for doing this great interview.

In A Bizarre Dream will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via New Heavy Sounds from August 19th 2022.


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Highwalker - S/T (Album Review)

Release Date: July 29th 2022. Record Label: Argonauta Records. Format: CD/DD

Highwalker - S/T - Tracklisting

Burning Temple

The Hermit

Under The Twin Suns

The Final Trench Run


Instrumental Doom/Stoner Metallers Highwalker self-titled debut album spans four songs and runs for around thirty three minutes. The band play a gloomy style of Instrumental Metal where the icy cold Psychedelic exteriors melt away to a distorted and down-tuned blend of Doom/Stoner Metal. Inspired by bands such as Pelican, SLEEP and CONAN though the band play at a much slower pace. The music is multi-layered and progressive at the same time.

Opening song Burning Temple offers a cinematic escape where Highwalker brings early-era Mastodon sounding aggression with the long drawn out grooves and hard hitting drums. The band starts playing FUZZ based guitars and elements of sludgy Post-Rock vibes. The guitars move into nineties Stoner/WEEDIAN territory and the ice cold flow of the record remains fully focused for Highwalker to deliver extended musical jams.  The band ultimately start playing AMPLIFIER WORSHIP and LOW & SLOW based music with Psych Metal vibes before the song ends on a more glitch free environment.

Second song The Hermit opens with a more laid back groove with cool solitary guitars and flashes of  Psych Rock and Post-Rock noises. The song fully moves up a gear when Highwalker plays a heavy blend of WEEDIAN based distorted rhythms. The instrumental work can be quite JAZZY in tone and nature with the song becoming quite melodic before the closing moments of the song. The distorted glitches make another brief appearance that allows the song to close naturally.

Third song Under The Twin Suns starts quietly yet again with Highwalker merging Ambient Post Rock rhythms and Post-Stoner chill out grooves. The music can be quite laid back and therapeutic in places with Highwalker confidently playing cool guitar sounds that loses its way when the FUNK based jams appear. Though the song is ultimately saved by a classical style of Stoner Metal appearing and allowing HIghwalker to play a more aggressive sound that features some of the heaviest parts of the album.

Fourth song The Final Trench Run is a more traditional Doom/Stoner Metal track with Highwalker still allowing themselves the chance to play the albums earlier Psych Rock and Post-Rock sounds. This track is downright catchy and full of aggressive tones that ends the album on an exciting finish.

For a debut album, this is an assured and confident release that should allow the band to make themselves known within the underground scene.

Words by Steve Howe

Highwalker's self-titled debut release is available to buy now on CD/DD via Argonauta Records.


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Monday, 8 August 2022

Indus Valley Kings - Origins (Album Review)

Release Date: June 08th 2022. Record Label: Self Released. Format: CD/DD

Origins - Tracklisting

1.Clown 04:43

2....And the Dead Shall Rise 07:01 

3.A Cold Wind 08:19

4.Hell to Pay 05:03

5.Dark Side of the Sun 08:49

6.Mohenjo Daro 05:47

7.Demon Beast 04:23

8.Drowned 04:52

9.Sky King 06:13


Billy Fridrich – lead and rhythm guitars, lead vocals

Jonathan Lesley Habers – bass, vocals (lead vocals on Hell to Pay and Demon Beast)

Dan Lofaro – drums


Origin is the second album from Psych Stoner Metallers Indus Valley Kings and the band explore musical areas such as Doom Metal, Fuzz, Blues Rock, Desert Rock and Grunge to allow this album to have a meatier sound compared to their debut album. The album is heavy and intense from the start with opening song Clown having a powerful guitar tone and thunderous heavy bass allowing Indus Valley Kings to take influence from bands across the Hard Rock Musical Spectrum. 

Clown becomes more grunge based towards the latter stages and I could easily detect an Alice In Chains influence with some of the guitar playing and lyrical content. The song shows how the band are quite adept moving from the classic seventies based Hard Rock sound to the more modern Psych Stoner Metal flavours that enrich this song so well. Don’t forget the killer vocals from Billy having a “showman” quality to them.

Second song …And The Dead Shall Rise is another delicious slice of FUZZ ROCK attitude with the Doom based atmosphere allowing Indus Valley Kings to play more top-heavy bass grooves with a thumping WEEDIAN guitar sound being quite “punchy” in the volume department. It seems the band take the Classic Power Trio structure and add distorted levels of Stoner based Grooves for a richer and fuller sound. The music is quite raw and abstract in places but this allows Indus Valley Kings to throw caution to the wind and deliver some intense Stoner/Desert Rock vibes that end up being one of the heaviest parts of the album.

There’s a lot to fully take in with this album. As the band have written some truly captivating lyrics that make you think in certain places. The music is highly original throughout with Indus Valley Kings not playing by the standard Stoner Rock/Metal Rule Book. The album could be considered experimental with the band taking a diverse and creative approach with the many different genres of music that’s included on this album.

The one area you can’t complain about is the riffs. As the album is jam-packed with epic riffs from different areas of the Hard Rock/Metal scene. With this album having a Blues Rock soul, the band do veer into “Jazz Rock” on certain stages of the album.

Other great tracks to check out are: A Cold Wind, Dark Side Of The Sun, Drowned and Sky King.

The production can be extremely loud and too forceful at times but that could be my advancing years showing. However, the album does sound superb especially on the second half of the album. Origins is a wonderfully different album and it’s good to have an “EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED” attitude with this record.

Excellent and Highly Recommended.

Words by Steve Howe


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Umbilicus (Cannibal Corpse/Deicide members) release video for new single “Gates Of Neptune”

New rock band UMBILICUS has released their third single, “Gates Of Neptune”, from their upcoming debut album “Path Of 1000 Suns”, with an accompanying video. Fresh onto the scene, the quartet have put their death metal chops aside, and embraced their collective love of 60s and 70s hard rock.

On “Gates Of Neptune”, Nordberg said: “Gates is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s a pretty simple song, but it says so much and is so incredibly dynamic. It really takes you on a journey. Brian’s vocals are also absolutely beautiful on this track, and really made it go from a neat song to an epic one! Though we made the band to make some classic hard rock, one of the things that made all those old bands so good was because they were able to be dynamic and have a “ballad” track on an album. “Dream On” I rest my case! We hope you all enjoy this song.

“Path Of 1000 Suns” can be pre-ordered at

“Path Of 1000 Suns” will be out September 30th on Listenable Insanity Records, and was mixed and mastered at Smoke & Mirrors Productions by Taylor Nordberg. The “Gates Of Neptune” music video was edited by Daniel Wahlström at Heavy Groove Media

Path Of 1000 Suns track-listing:

1. Hello Future
2. Umbilicus
3. Gates Of Neptune
4. I, Human
5. Stump Sponge
6. My Own Tide
7. Life On The Sun
8. The Call
9. Traveler
10. Gathering At The Kuiper Belt


The group is comprised of drummer Paul Mazurkiewicz (CANNIBAL CORPSE), guitarist Taylor Nordberg (DEICIDE, INHUMAN CONDITION, THE ABSENCE), bassist Vernon Blake (ANARCHUS, NAPALM DEATH - live), and vocalist and lyricist Brian Stephenson (FORE). The instrumentalists grouped together in the summer of 2020, crafting the music for what became "Path Of 1000 Suns" throughout the remainder of the year, then tapping vocalist Stephenson the following year to complete the lineup.

The band's debut album "Path Of 1000 Suns" is set to be released on September 30h, 2022 on Listenable Insanity Records and can be pre-ordered at
Details regarding international releases will be announced soon.

"Path Of 1000 Suns" was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Taylor Nordberg at Smoke & Mirrors Productions. The artwork for the album was also done by Taylor Nordberg.

Connect with UMBILICUS:

Thanks to Keith at Infecting Cells PR for all of the details.

Lazer Beam - Man In The House (EP Review)

Release Date: September 02nd 2022. Record Label: Self Released. Format: DD

Man In The House - Tracklisting

Man In The House

Night Life Fever

Roller Queen


Locust French - Everything


Man In The House is the first of three releases that Desert/Stoner Rock Artist Lazer Beam will be releasing in the next few months which Locust announced the other day. The EP lasts for ten minutes and sees a different creative vibe to Lazer Beam debut album.

Opening song Man In The House is quite “Pop” orientated with a gloomy industrial NIN and QOTSA feel. The song has glitchy soundytes with a deep Electronica sound. The lyrics are not what I expected from the Lazer Beam project. There’s a violent feeling contained within the lyrics and the Electronica vibe is not exactly Desert/Stoner Rock material. However, Locust has made some daring and bold creative choices on this song.

Second song Night Life Fever continues with the Industrial/Electronica approach with the song being very Stoner Rock orientated with sludgy grooves and modern day QOTSA inspired vocals. The lyrics are more rebellious and less violent compared to the opening song. This is the standout track on the EP and shows another different side to Lazer Beam. Psychedelic Grooves are more powerful thanks to the Industrial/Electronica sounds that Locust plays primarily here.

The final song Roller Queen is full of seedy attitude and with a  cool “Jim Morrison” and “Dave Wyndorf” inspired attitude on the spoken word elements of the song. Lazer Beam plays wicked sounding STONER/WEEDIAN sounds on this track and it can be downright funky in places. The song is fairly concise, lasting over two minutes in length but this track features the best grooves on the EP that leaves you wanting more.

Yeah, it sucks this release lasts under ten minutes but Lazer Beam plays more daring and adventurous sounds on Man In The House that I want to hear more and I'm hoping the upcoming EP's match the high standard that Lazer Beam has delivered fully here. 

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Lazer Beam or the promo.

Man In The House will be available to buy on DD  from September 02nd 2022.


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