Wednesday 20 June 2018

Blacklab - Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 (Album Review)

Release date: July 20th 2018. Label: New Heavy Sounds. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 – Tracklisting

1. Black Moon
2. Hidden Garden
3. Spoon
4. Symptom of the Blacklab
5. Warm Death
6. His Name Is ...
7. Fall and Rise
8. Big Muff


Yuko Morino, guitar and vocals
Chia Shiraishi, drums.


Greetings All,

It’s strange. I felt some sort of familiarity with Blacklab before I ever listened to one single solitary note of this record. Honestly, no idea why. After listening to this monster and having my mind absolutely melted I understood why. This record by this Japanese Doom Witch Duo is the record I would make if I had any music ability whatsoever (I don’t), Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 is absolutely brilliant. It is raw and intense and down right heavy. Blacklab bring elements of doom, drone, sludge and black metal to their wildly intense sound. The recording is spot on. The  sound is raw, but not lo fi. The guitars and drums will absolutely melt your face. The vocals are delivered in both Japanese and English and are at times harmonious, whispered, screamed or growled. The band also shows musical chops with dynamic changes and intensity delivered in every song.

Black Moon opens the record with a monster riff and driving drums. The vocals come with a Sabbath inspired sound before drifting in to some blackened metal screams. Some heavy fuzzed out wah brings in the trippy Hidden Garden,  which slays from the first to last note. A dark, Doomy guitar intro ushers in Spoon, with big drums and blasts of guitar. Symptom of the Blacklab uses the iconic open riff of the Sabbath classic before the band turns it over and puts their own noisy spin on this all to brief instrumental. 

Warm Death follows with a dark, bass driven groove and muted lyrics that explode into skull shattering black metal sludge and then turning to close a monstrous rocking outro. A riff rocking intro brings His Name Is to life. The song has a heavy groove oriented feel that carries into Fall and Rise which keeps the groove moving but with a darker, doomier vibe and another raucous change in to a sludge heavy outro. The record closes with a salute to one of the most beloved of distortion pedals. Big Muff  is a distortion and feedback filled 8 minutes sans vocals or drums. Just droning noise in the realm of Sunn/Earth/Melvins. A fitting close to a righteous ritual.

There is a tremendous feeling to discovering something new and exciting. When a band comes out of nowhere and floors you as Blacklab have done, it is a beautiful thing. This self described Doom Witch Duo have somehow managed to put out the record I hear in my head. I absolutely fucking love Under the Strawberry Moon 2.0. Blacklab have delivered a nearly perfect record. Get this and listen to it!

Todd S - Instagram @alltheghoststhathauntyou

Words by Todd Stealey

Thanks to I Like Press for the promo. Under The Strawberry Moon 2.0 will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via New Heavy Sounds from July 20th 2018.