Black Harvest is Green Lung’s sophomore release following 2019’s critically acclaimed Woodland Rites and is the band’s first album on Finland’s incredibly diverse Svart Records. They are in excellent company alongside dark-alt-pop songstress Suad, experimental surf-rock instrumentalist Pekka Laine, and crossover hardcore/metal outfit Obnoxious Youth.

For the uninitiated, the band hail from South London and are a five-piece consisting of Tom Templar on vocals, guitarist Scott Black, bassist Joseph Ghast, drummer Matt Wiseman and John Wright on organ. The line-up’s musical setup is kinda what you would expect from hard rock giants such as Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, (an organist was seemingly a legal requirement in the ’70s).

The band, in a relatively short time, have gathered quite a bit of attention in the mainstream, following a rave review in The Guardian (left-of-center U.K. broadsheet newspaper) as well as being featured on Daniel P. Carter’s BBC Radio One Rock Show. All very impressive, but is the album?

The first thing to notice from the off is the beautiful, stained-glass design on the front cover which was done by renowned artist Richard Wells (Doctor Who, Dracula, Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth) and this is an ideal fit considering the band’s fondness for all things relating to witchcraft, long-forgotten folklore and cultish horror films like Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Wicker Man.

Tom’s vocals are somewhat surprising for a stoner/doom outfit and not really what I expected, so if you are a fan of Ozzy Osbourne’s slightly nasal vocals or Ronnie James Dio operatic wail, then you are in for a treat. As with Ozzy during his Sabbath days, the vocals complement rather well the thunderously heavy, Iommi-esque riffing. The perfect demonstration of this would be “Leaders of the Blind,” the first standout track on the album and one which kicks you firmly in the nether regions;  it also guarantees a sore neck from headbanging for many weeks and perhaps months to come (if not years).

As the album progresses, you are introduced to some fairly disparate and varied sounds, all of which help highlight the album’s depth. “Graveyard Sun,” for example, opens with some acoustic folk loveliness that remind one of Led Zeppelin during their more Pagan and mythological moments. The track subsequently alternates with heavier periods and some majestic, Wishbone Ash-style melodic guitar lines (never a bad thing). This is a track with instant classic written all over it and is somewhat reminiscent of Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (for better or worse) with its blend of English folk and unashamed, down-to-earth heavy metal.

Another example of the band’s rampant experimentalism comes courtesy of “Black Harvest,” which, like album opener “The Harrowing,” is predominantly an instrumental that starts off with some “Wicker Man”-style chanting. A nice way to punctuate the album and with which to give the listener a bit of a breather.

Finally, “Born to a Dying World” contains Psychedelic elements what with the washes of organ bringing to mind Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. Like that track, there is an emotive and sombre core which had not been so explicitly expressed previously on the album. It certainly isn’t the most upbeat of tracks with grim Greta Thunberg predications such as “Born to a dying world, Feels like the end of days, I was born” making for an  apocalyptic conclusion to the album.

Public Enemy warned us to not believe the hype, and they were right; you should always judge any art on its own merits. Repeated listens of the album reveal a band who are not afraid to stray from the stoner/doom rulebook, making for an overall engrossing listen and one worthy of its many critical acclamations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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