As far as the horror genre goes, Great Britain has long established itself as a haven for what has been dubbed folk horror. You know the kind, tales of witchcraft, pagan sacrifice, devil worship; a wealth of cinema which includes The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, Blood on Satan’s Claw, and the recent addition of A Field in England have cast spells the world over.
Unsurprising then do these themes occur heavily in our music be it from pioneers Black Sabbath and Black Widow, as well as Pagan Altar, Electric Wizard, Alunah, Witchfinder General (ahem). It’s in our blood. And with the rise of London’s rural-minded Green Lung this tradition seems to be stronger than ever; their debut album Woodland Rites, out soon on Kozmik Artifactz, brews the finest of these ingredients into one hell of a charming concoction.
Birthed not too long ago, the London five-piece made a strong first impression with last years Free the Witch EP leaving the intrepid explorers of the heavy metal universe hungry for more. On first listen it is clear our appetites are to be duly satisfied: forging a powerful amalgamation of hearty organ-led folk rock with the weight and wisdom of the traditional doom and heavy metal guided by the bewitching vocals of Tom Templar (who is equal parts Uncle Acid and John Gamino of Mondo Drag – the latter especially true for album closer ‘Into the Wild’).
The music here is as infernal as any of their contemporaries but what makes their craft stand out are Scott Masson’s scorching and memorable leads ripped from the pages of metal aeons past; his rumbling grooves that neatly complement Templar’s vocal harmonies and his solos add a smidgen of epic psychedelia to their brand of heaviness.
Whether it’s the thumping riffs of the title track, the infectious cacophonies of ‘Let the Devil In’ and ‘The Ritual Tree’, or the near-acoustic bliss on penultimate ode ‘May Queen’ there is something for every self-respecting follower of the riff. Rich in heavy metal classicism the first half triumphs in luring the listener deep into its sinister domain whilst side B dabbles in other folkloric manifestations; though it loses none of its formidable clout it is a far more experimental shadow which continues to entice and enthral.
No matter the path they take they stay true to their horror-bound origins and borrow heavily from the half-century legacy of darkness, cloaking itself in the alluring temptations of ‘Templar Dawn’ and the Beastmaker-esque atmosphere of ‘Call of the Coven’. Through and through the album never skips a beat, perfectly flourishing in its creators’ strengths and extends itself to the furthest heights far above London’s grimy underworld.
As far as debut albums go Woodland Rites establishes itself early on and perfectly captures Green Lung’s sound and intentions, not to mention a stellar experience in its own right. Firmly planting itself as one of the year’s better grasp on the ye-olde-worldy while still sounding incredibly modern and polished, there is very little not to like here.
Proudly embracing our (well, British) wild heritage and cultural traditions with sincerity, fervor, and monumental prowess, they spark our imaginations and leave us begging for more. When music is as strong and reputable as this one cannot help but to crank up the volume and give in to its power, of which there an absolute abundance. Needless to say they do us superstitious Brits and our forefathers proud.