In a Bizarre Dream by Blacklab

Release date: August 19, 2022
Label: New Heavy Sounds

It’s the stuff of dreams to form a band inspired by your musical heroes, and then along the journey you get to have one of them guest and deliver awesomeness on one of your own self-penned song’s. This has happened to Osaka trio Blacklab on the fittingly titled third album In a Bizarre Dream.

The band name itself is made up of two of their most important musical heroes. The first of these will not be too much of surprise to learn its Black Sabbath. The doomy, menacing, slow lurching riff on album opener ‘Cold Rain’ alone is a bright (or should that be dark) beacon of Tony Iommi worship. The other isn’t as obvious: Indie-gurgling electronica sonic explorers Stereolab. And it is from the latter band that sees Laetitia Sadler guest on the fabulous ‘Crows, Sparrows, and Cats’. Fortunately for Blacklab they so happen to be on the masters of bringing nuanced fuzzy heaviness artists to our attention – New Heavy Sounds label – whose co-head honcho Paul Cox’s former endeavours was to indeed sign Stereolab to the Too Pure label. Bonus!!

That song in question ‘Crows, Sparrows, and Cats’ is a culmination of a pile-driving motorik tempo, a whirl ball of gorgeous drone fuzz, and the top-notch icing is the unmistakeable ethereal vocals of Laetitia. It isn’t just one of the collaborations of the year, but up there as one of my best tracks of 2022 so far. And its high quality has rightly been garnering airplay on 6 Music’s Marc Riley show, which demonstrates hugely the song’s crossover appeal.


However, In a Bizarre Dream isn’t just a one track highlight, as it sees Blacklab sharpen their song writing, tighten any loose flab and flex out many shades of their sound. The opening trio of thick heavy blasts of ‘Cold Rain’, ‘Abyss Woods’, and ‘Dark Clouds’ sees them increasing the ripped throat growling vocals (not my favourite vocal style) but juxtaposed with a clean melody hook-driven kind (very much to my taste) does mean the styles are constantly mixed up and the growls are (aside from album closer ‘Collapse’) in short bursts.

Playing further with contrasts are ‘Evil 1’, which begins with an immense sturdy slow chug, before changing course to rock out in sludgy/hardcore punk abandon. ‘Evil 2’ on the other hand shows their abilities to demonstrate restraint, to pursue successfully their own ethereal qualities, which boasts an infectious bluesy fuzzed up riff. The revealing of their love of Stereolab tends to be found in their vocal deliveries – the clean, high on melodies style. While the doomy thumper ‘Monochrome Rainbow’ has traces of the New Heavy Sounds label’s former signees; the now defunct and much missed Black Moth.

Blacklab do all of this by evolving, refining, and solidifying their idiosyncratic sound. They have tightened up their song writing and production without losing their overflowing ferociousness and heaviness. They still bruise, but also tickle your melodic senses like they haven’t before. Despite the extra throat growling misgivings, In a Bizarre Dream is still arguably Blacklab’s most expansive and finest offering yet.

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