Since their inception just four years ago, London doom quintet Green Lung have been giving more than a heavy nod of appreciation to the history of English witchcraft, the occult and 80’s NWOBHM. Two years ago, their independently-released Woodland Rites made waves, featured on multiple end-of-year lists and, perhaps most importantly, breathed new life into a saturated stoner/doom scene. Now on Finnish occult label Svart Records, whose huge roster includes Warning and Reverend Bizarre, their new LP is sure to hit with all the force of a tsunami.
Black Harvest runs with the same themes but there must be dark forces at play for just how powerful this album is, adding a disco doom twist to a mix of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Maiden influences, and that’s just for starters. Similarly to the criminally underrated ASG, they combine a huge range of ingredients to make a masterpiece. Piercing heavy metal guitars are marshalled into upbeat stoner riffs and downright gloomy bass, backed up by soaring and spellbinding vocals by the devilish and brilliantly named Tom Templar. A great big bundle of exciting contradictions and tensions!
The haunting autumnal ritualistic call of album opener ‘The Harrowing’ is followed by intricate and progressive, upbeat guitar while the electric organ/keyboard playing by John Wright has a psychedelic vibrancy and Matt Wiseman’s marching drums are punchy and explosive. The powerful riffage takes on a meandering stoner vibe in ‘Old Gods’ and is joined by more maniacal keys before Templar’s high octave vocals burst through the chaos like rays of sunshine in a gloomy forest, akin to a young and soulful Ozzy. The celebration of paganism and heavy 70’s occult rock is clear with the catchy lyrics, groovy bass from Joseph Ghast, retro organ and ever-changing guitar licks.
‘Leaders Of the Blind’ was the first released single and has a political, defiant and frustrated flavour in the lyrics. The instrumental section is triumphant with some Maiden-style guitar work duelling with Ghast’s ominous chugging bass which contrasts against the high-pitched keys and vocals. Next up is foot-tapper turning into a sure head banger, ‘Reapers Scythe,’ which features crazed organ playing alongside impassioned, galloping and searing hair metal solos which climb together to a cacophonic conclusion.
Taking a far more sombre turn, gentle folk guitar opens up gothic lullaby ‘Graveyard Sun’, which wouldn’t be out of place on a Type O Negative playlist with the haunting, tongue-in-cheek melody about The Highgate Vampire. In contrast to the melodic verses the chorus is packed with wailing, doomy riffs alongside eerie churchlike organ tones.
Title track ‘Black Harvest’ is in fact more of a musical interlude, transitioning from satanic ceremonial chanting to bright bursts of keyboard craziness and more complex NWOBHM solos. This leads nicely into the lively Hammer Horror inspired ‘Upon the Altar’ with a sexy bluesy stoner groove and Iommian hooks. ‘You Bear the Mark’ is composed at a faster rock‘n’roll pace which surges forward with a galloping drum beat and crashing cymbals from Matt Wiseman, lit up with yet more fiery licks from Black.
‘Doomsayer’ slows down the tempo with groovy soulful vocals and complex layered guitar which both compliments and clashes with the obscure organ, especially when the track includes eruptions of dissonant insanity amongst the heavy bluesy swagger. Closing the curtains on this epic is tenth track ‘Born To A Dying World’ starting out as a nostalgic, melancholy ballad and is brought to life by all five musicians adding vibrant bursts and subtle textures from 70’s keyboard to killer hooks and a rumbling bassline.
Woodland Rites was already a fantastic record, but from that was born another creature. A serious soul and shoulder shaker that is more fearsome and powerful but also endearing and intricate. A bewitching journey with theatrics and social commentary which will have jaws dropping further with each following track. Absolute magic.
Black Harvest is out now via Svart Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Abi Coulson