Green Lung – This Heathen Land: Album Review

Green Lung perfect a hybrid of folklore, horror and Metal.

Release Date: 3rd November 2023

Label: Nuclear Blast

Format: Digital / CD / Vinyl

Watching Green Lung supporting Clutch in Manchester last December was a life-changing moment. They suddenly did what Slade and FGTH used to do in the Top Of The Pops days of yore, and went straight in at #1 as the new favourite band.

Having gorged on Woodland Rites and Black Harvest, we willingly take up their latest offer of a journey into Occult Albion. An intro that beckons us “beyond the cities and motorways of modern Britain lies a country – an older stranger country…” bursts into life as we enter The Forest Church. Their dedication to seeking out and highlighting an alternative roll call of folk heroes and legends, is exemplified by first single, Mountain Throne and the inspiration of the story of the Pendle Witches. It typifies their unearthing of an alternative history of fascinating key figures, locations and events that afford our nation such a rich heritage.

The Green Lung version of Heavy Metal is complemented with a covering of graveyard keyboard textures. Influences? You may find yourself recognising something in the Green Lung cauldron that that might reference Sabbath (naturally) in the general air of menacing Doom; Maiden with some of the guitar lines; Queen with some May-esque squeals and Taylor-esque shrill harmonies and Ghost via some of the delicious melodies woven into the patchwork. Yes it’s retro and there are others who do it pretty well, but not quite with the devotion to their subject as Green Lung.

The keyboard riffery takes the lead in Maxine (‘witch queen’) that sees Alderley Edge getting referenced possibly for the first time in song, and a Metal one at that, yet the might of One For Sorrow, complete with tolling bells and ponderous tempo, towers above all. The journey moves from the land to the skies with “I have always been one for sorrow,” becoming the confessional incantation as a thundering dense riff takes over. The expected “two for..three for...” count leads to the crescendo, culminating inevitably in “Seven for the Devil himself.

In a much more organic vein is Song Of The Stones. Conjuring up the vision of a woodland gathering with organic instruments beating a ponderous tempo, a congregation gathers around a rustic altar to chant their invocation to some heathen deity. It’s a brief respite as the climax of the album approaches; a quarter hour set in motion and ramped up by the Classic Rock tropes given the Green Lung treatment in The Ancient Ways (top notch guitar soloing from Scott Black) and the pacey Hunters In The Sky that’s on the receiving end of some very Proggy keyboard interplay.

The “I have crossed oceans of time to find you,” line might be familiar to movie buffs with a vampiric bent that pulls back on the metal for a more dramatic favour that might (possibly) be how Green Lung would present in musical theatre or film; particularly with the fading run out that brings us full circle into the pastoral calm that introduced the record.

Singer, Tom Templar, talks of the ambition to “create the definitive soundtrack to the folk horror film in our heads.”  This Heathen Land is another chance to welcome the Devil into your hearts, down at the forest church naturally. Grab it with both hands.

Here’s what some have called “Green Lung’s heaviest song to date,” One for Sorrow:

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