Thursday 28 October 2021

Green Lung - Black Harvest (2021)

Country: UK
Style: Occult Rock
Rating: 8/10
Release Date: 22 Oct 2021
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I liked Green Lung's 2019 debut album, Woodland Rites, a lot, if not quite as much as other critics who fawned over it. This follow-up is better to my ears, doing much of what its predecessor did but slicker and much more emphatically. The production is in your face, almost exploding through the speakers with a burning energy, and the bottom end is particularly bombastic. The impression is that we have to fear for the stages up and down the United Kingdom because they're just not going to be the same after this band wraps up their sets. Everything feels deliberately loud and it stays that way, even after you turn down the volume. Which you won't want to do, trust me.

I'm still hearing the expected Black Sabbath influence for an occult rock band filtered through a more modern Cathedral update to that bedrock, but there's an American rock element to this one that sits behind all that that I don't recall from the debut. It's there as the folk chant of The Harrowing builds to something a lot more intense halfway through and it feels to me like a sort of arena rock band who you don't expect to gallop, like, say, Boston, who promptly start to gallop with abandon and it's clear that they're effortlessly good at it, even if they don't do it often.

I think it's mostly the very seventies style heavy organ of John Wright that brings that to the fray. He clearly listens to Tom Scholz and he channels a lot of Foreplay into The Harrowing, which benefits from that punchy production. It's overt in Leaders of the Blind too but it's rarely actually absent, after that escalation in The Harrowing and some hovering tantalisingly behind the shoulder of Old Gods. It's not far away wherever the band go on this album.

As is perhaps inevitable with occult rock, there's a strong folk element here and much of this feels like folk horror. I'm actually surprised that only one of these song titles decorates the spine of a novel on my horror shelves. It feels like every one of these should be British folk horror novels, probably in slim paperbacks published by New English Library in the seventies. Maybe I should write some more. I did, however catch others in the lyrics, Dennis Wheatley showing up in at least Upon the Altar.

If seventies horror makes you think of schlock, though, I should scotch those thoughts quickly because there's a real maturity here in the songwriting, which is at least a step up from its predecessor. Songs like Graveyard Sun and Born to a Dying World are admirably deep, rising and falling but never losing any of their power and impact. The title track does a lot too in its mere two and a half minutes. Excepting the intro, it's easily the shortest song on offer here, with the majority of songs comfortable at a four or five minute length, longer enough than commercial singles to get our teeth into them but not quite so much as to become epic.

I appreciated this maturity. Sometimes the heaviest bands aren't those who never do anything else but those who feel comfortable in softening up when songs demand it, only to absolutely crush when it comes time to trawl in a perfectly placed killer riff and escalate. There's a particularly effective riff on Doomsayer that I adore, but the main one from Reaper's Scythe is a killer too. These are the sort of quintessential Sabbath riffs that are so simple that we can't help but wonder why nobody came up with them sooner. Then again, Tony Iommi has been doing that for half a century and more. It's a very particular and rare talent.

I know this has to get an 8/10 from me because I noted half the songs down as highlights, there isn't a duff track anywhere to be found and I'm having trouble not just leaving it all on repeat for the whole day. I have another review to do and need to move on, but I don't wanna. So an easy 8/10. This band is going to make a serious impact over the next few years if they keep going like this.

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