It is a time of change for the Baltimore based psych-doom three piece Black Lung, who following the release of their third album Ancients in 2019, parted ways with founding guitarist Adam Bufano, replacing him with Deaf Scene’s Dave Fullerton. Four months later and their subsequent tour of the album was cancelled as the pandemic struck, so the band decided to regroup and start working on fresh material with their new guitar player straight away.
Fast forward two years and Dark Waves (Heavy Psych Sounds) is the end result, an album with eight tracks written and recorded in bitter times, but with the band taking advantage of an extended period of creativity and the influence of working with a new musician.
Dark Waves kicks off with ‘Demons’ and a psychedelic intro, before a moment of feedback introduces a pure head nodding and brilliantly catchy stoner riff, with the fuzz turned up to ten and with some complex spaced out leads. The vocals of Dave Cavalier instantly evokes a sound reminiscent of Sabbath-era Ozzy into the mix, while a beautifully extended instrumental period, showcases some impressive guitar work from their new guy.
The title track continues with the prominent fuzz on the guitars and the Ozzy-esq vocals providing a real seventies rock vibe, while ‘The Cog’ shows a slightly slower and more melodic side with a definite blues influence. ‘Awaken’ continues the melodic vibe but explodes with a riff straight out of the Kyuss / Fu Manchu rule book of nineties stoner rock. This time Cavalier’s vox echo shades of Jim Morrison in the verse, and the lead guitar shows that Fullerton has a vast arsenal of pedals at his disposal, with a phaser-heavy solo.
Next up, ‘Hollow Dreams’ is one of the records stand-out cuts, with a super low bass intro, moments of pure Hawkwind-style space rock, strong vocals and multiple epic guitar leads. ‘Death Grip’ introduces the guest vocals of Shawna Potter from War On Women on the chorus, and her style massively compliments the music, providing another standout moment on the album. ‘The Path’ channels lazy vibes of the desert with a building riff, before the album plays out with ‘Mad King’, providing more downtuned fuzz and hypnotic lead guitar work.
Dark Waves may not deliver anything groundbreakingly original here, but what it does serve up is executed exceptionally well. It proudly wears the influence of classic spaced out rock, with stoner and elements of doom. And at only eight tracks certainly doesn’t outstay its welcome, providing a swift and engaging journey for the listener.
7 / 10