This Heathen Land by Green LungRelease date: November 3, 2023
Label: Nuclear Blast
There’s been a real shift over recent years in bands harking back to the classic hard rock sound that was so popular throughout the 70’s and 80s, and whilst the more extreme side has continued to develop in rude health, this counterbalance has really made an argument that rock is, indeed, actually not dead. Not that we ever believed it was right? Indeed, probably the biggest success story in the hard rock genre recently has been that of Ghost whose Blue Oyster Cult aping has taking them to festival headline slots and arenas across the world. In the wake of this have been numerous other bands following in their stead including from London’s heavy rock scene, Green Lung.
Now on their third album, This Heathen Land continues building on their reputation as ones to watch with an album chockful of classic 70’s rock in the NWOBHM vein, throwing in a dash of folk and more than a modicum of occultism. Much like the aural equivalent of visiting a rock festival at Summerisle, there may be no Wicker Men burning here, but the riffs are certainly white hot. Soaring melodies and mellotron add to that otherworldly feel, whilst the harmonies and melodies hint at more than a nod at those histrionic stalwarts Queen. It’s like the 70’s never went away, although they rarely sounded this exciting.
Starting, as all albums like this should, with a mysterious intro, it’s not long before those devil horns are being thrust high in the air as you scream along to the indelible chorus on ‘The Forest Church’. All doom filled riffs, but never not accessible, Green Lung are certainly adept at covering all angles on this album to ensure the listener is allowed in to the experience with little work needed. Too much do bands make a listener work hard at accessing the riffs, but the melodic sensibility here is toned perfectly. A great example of this is the maniacal ‘Maxine’, all swirling mellotron sounds, and fist pumping moments, set against the story of an actual real witch. What more could you really ask for.
It would be easy to cast aspersions of hokey Hammer Horror moments at them be that would be to miss the point. Green Lung are unafraid to inject a bit of hokiness into their music and understand that at its heart, heavy rock is ultimately meant to be fun and not taken too seriously. They’ll make sure that the atmospheric moments are there to alleviate the all out occult party, but ultimately by the time the splendid triumvirate of the final three tracks hit you, they have you fully within their hands and you quite frankly are a willing participant.
There’s quite a stir about this band at the moment and whilst they may not make that break to Ghost sized levels, they certainly have it in them to become one of the more important bands in the current heavy rock scene. On the surface you would expect their lyrical themes not to resonate with a wider audience but within the rock world you can certainly see them playing a few choice slots on festival line-ups. In This Heathen Land, the band have released one of the best rock albums this year, and you get the sense that they have just started to hit their stride too. A fantastic blast of occult hard rock.