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BlackLab – In a Bizarre Dream

BlackLab
In a Bizarre Dream
by Gary Hernandez at 01 October 2022, 9:36 PM

Things I love about Japan: Sushi, of course; Haruki Murakami, again, of course; Kwaidan horror . . . okay, so there’s ton a shit I love about Japan including BLACKLAB, “the dark witch doom duo from Osaka, Japan.” BLACKLAB (stylized BlackLab) formed sometime around 2012. Over the last decade they have released an EP, a split, plus three full-length studio albums as well as a live album. Their third full-length, “In a Bizarre Dream,” was released August 19, 2022 via New Heavy Sounds. It is an eclectic bag of leaden nails, very sharp, very heavy. Sticking with their legacy of Doom, a down-tuned, bluesy motif is prevalent, but there are also thrashy, punk edges. Some listeners might be thrown by the variety, but I really enjoyed the explorative approach. It’s not like they’re running off on avant-garde tangents—the clear direction is viscerally forward—but there is a nice mix of vocal stylings as well as variations in riffage and tempo.

I prefer BLACKLAB when they lean into their Stoner Doom persona, which is inherently Psych as well. I also like their thrashier side. In this aspect, they remind me of BALA, the Portuguese duo, which, btw, I think would make a killer show—BALA and BLACKLAB. With that said, my favorite tracks are: “Evil 2,” a slow burner with a bit dark woods moroseness about it; “Crows, Sparrows and Cats” (featuring Laetitia Sadier of STEREOLAB fame), a big shift from its Doom and Thrash sisters, but its Stoner hypnotics are too infectious to be denied; and “Lost,” a nastier slice from the Stoner slate—mean and groovy.

For fans looking for more Doom and more darkness, the album bookends itself with “Cold Rain” and “Collapse,” both showcasing Yuko’s guttural side. “Collapse,” I should say, departs from the Doom template about halfway through when it expands into Death proportions. Still an excellent track. Certainly, the perfect choice to close the album. “Abyss Woods” mixes Doom intonations with Grunge inflections to a satisfying effect. The clean and guttural vocals also add some emotional flex. “Evil 1” and “Monochrome Rainbow” are other heavy Doom artifacts.

Overall, “In a Bizarre Dream” is BLACKLAB’s most ambitious album yet. It even has two more tracks (ten in total) than any of their previous releases (oddly, or evenly, eight tracks each). It is also the best produced, so hats off to Jun Morino on production and Wayne Adams (GREEN LUNG, COLD IN BERLIN) on the mix. If you follow BLACKLAB, you’ll note a steady lift in their trajectory with this album. If you are new to the band, a trip back through their LP’s is worth the investment. You’ll note Yuko’s vocals strengthening and their songwriting getting more sophisticated. With BLACKLAB maintaining a regular cadence of an album every two years, you’ll have some time to catch-up.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.  Cold Rain
2.  Abyss Woods
3.  Dark Clouds
4.  Evil I
5.  Evil II
6.  Crows, Sparrows and Cats (feat Laetitia Sadier)
7.  Lost
8.  In A Bizarre Dream
9.  Monochrome Rainbow
10. Collapse
Lineup:
Chia Shiraishi – Drums
Yuko Morino – Guitars, vocals
Record Label: New Heavy Sounds
     


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Edited 09 December 2022
 

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