Imagine it's a rainy night and you are strolling around a city in Japan. You see two slight Japanese women and follow them to a dressing room, where they carefully put on their makeup- not speaking a word. You watch the two walk down the stairs....
Suddenly, you are front and centre - one of the women sitting at a drum kit; one standing in front of a beautiful, vintage-looking microphone, with a guitar in her hands….and so Blacklab begins.... (I highly recommend you watch this video, featured on YouTube, called "Warm Death/Black Moon"; you might watch it twice or three times like I did, it's so enchanting).
"Warm Death" starts with simplistic drumming, the singer strumming chords reminiscent of a Black Sabbath tune (even down to the heavy cross round her neck). Haunting melodies mix with her prolific screams; an absolute compliment to one another - definitely one of the favourites on the album. It's a perfect combustion of heavy rhythms with ever-steady mid-range melodies. If there were ever a proper band to be called "doom metal", it is Blacklab.
"Black Moon" is a song that features heavy, distorted guitar- fast-paced and a kind of relived two-piece version of L7. The lyrics are again simple melodies yet this time imploring the singer, Yuko Morino's, deep growls at the poignant chorus of the song. It's a song with a catchy groove and Morino's vocals are shown in full force.
"His Name Is...." is a song you must implore yourself to hear; again, the doom metal element is ever-present; the tempo changes still invoke a groove that is unmistakable, this song being the most imperfectly perfect song of the album.
Singer Morino says this about the song, “His Name Is ... is a rough rock tune, which has an irregular meter and shuffle beat. The lyrics are written in Nihon-go. The song mixes melodic and barking vocals to add a hardcore element, which is very much part of our sound. It's the song composed soon after we formed the band, and it's one of the songs that we often play when we're asked for encore.”
"Symptom of the Blacklab", is an instrumental, placed perfectly in the middle of the album. The witchy, daunting riffs are ear-pleasing and almost sedative. It's almost as if you have been transported back in time to the 1960's, when doom metal began its' journey with more sinister bands like Coven. At times, it may seem rudimentary but the talent and the groove are underlying and give it all the depth it needs.
"Big Muff" (could you ask for a better title??) ends the album, the longest song at 9 minutes 40 seconds. There are no lyrics - only Morino and her guitar - as if we are voyeurs looking in on her, experimenting with her guitar and a fuzz pedal. A fantastic trance-like song, you will want to keep listening to hear just what she can do with her axe.
If you are a profound metal listener, Blacklab's doom sound is almost a nice reprieve from the constant pounding and gutteral screams of Black or Death metal. This perfectly spooky sound will have you entranced; and let's hope to hear more from this dynamic duo of doom.
Under the Strawberry Moon 2.0
Vocalist/guitarist Yuko Morino
Drummer- Chia Shiraishi
(Remixed by Wayne Adams at New Heavy Sounds; he is also known for Death Pedals and Casual Nun)
Review by Marisa Dymond