Green Lung – Black Harvest Review

Does innovation matter in metal? I often seem to find myself saying something along the lines of: “[insert band name here] isn’t really doing anything new here but perhaps they’re not really trying to.” Is ‘not doing anything new’ inherently a criticism? There’s no point asking London, UK’s Green Lung, as they’ve been too busy to care, absolutely nailing their brand of Black Sabbath worship. On their 2019 debut album, Woodland Rites, the quintet sampled Patrick Wymark’s performance as the Judge in The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), as he asks “Witchcraft is dead and discredited. Are you bent on reviving forgotten horrors?” (“Initiation”). Green Lung’s response? Vocalist Tom Templar bellowing, “Oh lord yeah!” (the title track). Has the band seen the light and created something fresh on sophomore effort, Black Harvest, or is the band still bent on resurrecting past horrors glories?

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Sabbath is still present and correct in the sound but Black Harvest draws on much more and creates a more nuanced and interesting sound as result. As Green Lung stride forth from their woodland retreat, Sabbath are joined in the swirling mix by likes of Boston and even Led Zeppelin. OK, so these are not what one might call contemporary influences but they add a new dimension to the sound Green Lung dredged up for the very good Woodland Rites and, indeed its predecessor EP, Free the Witch. The witchcraft and Satanic themes of previous outings still lurch and stumble across Black Harvest, something made abundantly clear as the disquieting vocal harmonies and creaking organ of opener “The Harrowing” crawl forth, before Green Lung lean into something akin to Boston’s “Foreplay / Longtime.”1

It’s the perfect start to Black Harvest, as the next 40 minutes see Green Lung pack in more noodling solos and doom—even goth-tinged—riffs than you can shake a crucifix at. John Wright’s otherworldly organ2 and the thick, stoner-adjacent bass from Joseph Ghast give the whole a richness and depth of sound that emphasize the occasional drops into folk passages (notably on “Graveyard Sun”), while the deceptively simple and excellent drumming of Matt Wiseman is a joy, especially on the title track. There is no doubt, however, that the stars of the show are Templar’s vocals and Scott Black’s guitars. For every wailing solo that Black deploys, there is a big vocal hook from Templar. High and slightly nasal, with just enough Robert Plant in there, Templar’s delivery is slightly more stylized on Black Harvest than Woodland Rites and might not be love at first listen for everyone, but the more time I’ve spent with it, the more I enjoy it, and the more I think it works perfectly for the record.

Black Harvest is a great album that finds Green Lung at the top of their game. It is the record I’ve always wanted Witchcraft to make since I first heard Firewood and which the Swedes have so far resolutely failed to deliver. Consistent across its runtime and compellingly written, Black Harvest balances its influences well. While the Sabbath vibe is omnipresent, at some points the band leans into Zeppelin territory, the next they conjure Witchfinder General. Indeed, I think we’ve now reached a point where it can be said that, rather than worshipping at the altar of Sabbath, Green Lung has found its own voice, albeit a voice steeped in familiar and longstanding influences. There are too many great tracks to really call any single one the highlight but the rollicking “Old Gods” and the belting, vocal-hook-laden “Leaders of the Blind,” sit perfectly alongside the soaring, folk-led “Graveyard Sun” and brooding title track. Mastered by John Davis (Led Zeppelin and Royal Blood, among others), Black Harvest also sounds excellent (and much better than its DR6 would suggest), something you realize as soon as the skin-crawl inducing vocal line of “The Harrowing” begins, a sense that only grows as the album continues.

Black Harvest has been a pleasure to wander around in. Its traditional doom sensibilities paired expertly with its more progressive, 70s rock flourishes and folk nods make it wonderfully easy to lose yourself in. Tightly written, with stellar performances across the board from the band, there is little to criticize and much to love here. If I were to make one criticism—or perhaps ‘wish’ would be a better word—it’s that I’d like to have seen Green Lung take one or two more risks but perhaps that would have risked the coherence of what is here, and that is of the highest quality.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Svart Records
Websites: | |
Releases Worldwide: October 22nd, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Thank you to Huck’n’Roll for using his advanced years years of musical knowledge to help me pin down that sound. It would have bugged me for ages.
  2. Now, now, stop that! I see you!
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