Throughout the years, occultism has been an ever-present source of inspiration for many artists, aiding them with a bottomless pool of ideas ranging from curious aesthetics to enchanting lyrics about hidden worlds and forgotten ways of life. Green Lung, whose name refers to the pagan ideal of living as part of nature at its core, stand as one of numerous bands who have explored this esoteric bounty. Professing to largely pull inspiration from the image of a local “village witch” rather than the bewildering and often dark workings of infamous occultist Aleister Crowley, Green Lung divulge into the albums that have crafted their own understanding of what it means to be an occult rock musician.
In the run up to the release of their new album, Black Harvest, set to arrive on October 22 via Svart, the band have released a new video for their single Graveyard Sun, which you can watch below.
1. Black Widow - Sacrifice (1970)
Tom: Sacrifice is this really weird mix of prog, heavy rock and acidy folk...with saxophone, it’s really strange. The cool thing about Black Widow is that they actually got in with the real Wiccan/witch guys, such as Alex Sanders and Maxine Sanders, who were a real coven. They [Black Widow] got them to come on stage and do ritual magic, which used to get them the papers. They’d have Maxine Sanders naked on an altar as they played heavy rock in front of her. The music is very easy listening, it's sort of snakey, fun, slightly seductive jazzy prog, and I think that's a better indication of occult rock than lots of heaviness. Because usually you burn some incense, you’re probably having sex on the floor with someone, surrounded by psychedelic lights... the music for that is not extreme black metal, it’s saxophone and weird prog.
2. Puppy - The Goat (2019)
Scott: I think this album is almost post-Ghost in a way, where it's taking these campier more accessible elements of occult rock and moving it away from black metal and scary dudes, and closer to something a bit more alt rock – and fun. I think Puppy did it in a way that's a lot more personal too. A lot of the songwriting is very personal, and they tie occult themes into that. It’s not that they’re just talking about occult ideas and that kind of thing, but it's that they talk about themselves while personalising those occult themes.
3. Graham Bond - Holy Magick (1970)
Tom: Graham Bond made this completely mad album that has a fold out gatefold of Stonehenge, and he’s standing there on it in the morning light. It was his attempt to try and make a genuine magic ritual at Stonehenge and record it. The album is not a great album, it’s super strange. Graham also had this incredibly turbulent life and died in very ridiculous circumstances. He was one of these guys that were ticked for massive rock stardom, but then in 1969 he probably did way too much acid, and instead of becoming like The Yardbirds, he ended up as an actual druid. I think people like Graham Bond are the real occult rock guys. The guys who don’t end up in a multi-million pound rock band but actually end up in a Travelodge having just done a ritual at Stonehenge, dying from drinking too much. The album is based on the tarot, and each song is a different passage within it. There's a song called Return To Arthur which is about Arthurian legend, and it’s quite easy to listen to. Actually, you could put it on at a dinner party.
4. Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties (1974)
Tom: For me Blue Öyster Cult are occult rock in the way that it isn’t like witchcraft or Satanism, it’s the real occult, as in mystery and secrecy. Some of their lyrics are written by Patti Smith, which is really weird. I take a lot of inspiration from it in the way that we do Green Lung, as in lots of symbols that we don’t explain. What I love about BOC is that they never explained what a song was about, they were all really sinister. They’ve got lots of phrases that seem to have occult meaning, but maybe they don’t. So I think they are the definition of an occult rock band, and Secret Treaties is an amazing album. Career Of Evil is probably the most evil song ever, even though it’s really jaunty.
5. Goblin - Suspiria Soundtrack (1977)
Scott: I couldn’t think of many films where the soundtrack is as perfect for it in terms of the visual and the vibe. It's generally terrifying, and it's got this really heavy and ritualistic element to it which is really cool. It evokes that sense of paranormal fear, and it's so evocative. My favourite song is the one where a guy for about three minutes just goes 'WITCH! WITCH!'. I think that is just about as on the nose as you can get in terms of lyrics.
6. Witchfinder General - Death Penalty (1982)
Tom: Death Penalty has the most insane album cover ever, it features these puritans killing a Page 3 model in a graveyard. It’s the most tasteless jacket of all time, and we did a gender role reversal flip of it on our Free The Witch EP on the back, where the witches are tearing up a guy. Witchfinder General are really odd because they sound like a fast Black Sabbath, and every song is about witch finding and it's set in Essex in the Civil War era. Also, it’s kind of like pissed-up party music, it’s not scary for me. It makes me want to drive a really shit motorbike through a market town and kick stuff...
7. Electric Wizard - Witchcult Today (2007)
Tom: Witchcult Today by Electric Wizard is the absolute *chef’s kiss occult revival album. It has this amazing knack for being super-heavy and horrible, but it's kind of sexy and melodic. It's just a really weird album in their discography because everything else is super-heavy and that's kind of it. But on that album they’ve got these really great hooks, such as on The Chosen Few and Satanic Rites of Drugula. I think that album brought occult rock back more than Ghost did, and I think every group that has released an occult rock album since that album has probably got some dues to pay to Electric Wizard for opening the door.
8. Coven - Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls (1969)
Scott: This album is so important, as it’s way more folky, and when I listen to it it makes me think of stuff like Young Tradition in the 60s doing that whole folk revival thing. The first track is called Black Sabbath and that paved a whole thing for the occult rock scene.
Tom: The visuals on that album are wild as well, it's like a proper re-enactment ritual. If you picked that up in 1968/9 when the whole of heavy metal hadn’t been invented, I can’t imagine how shocking that would be if you were just some sort of straight guy, never really been to the city before, and you go into Soho and find it.
Scott: There was so much Satanic panic around at the time as well, it was the proper Manson family era, people were generally terrified of that stuff, so Coven were probably really shocking, but it really paved the way for a lot of those bands.
9. Comus - First Utterance (1971)
Tom: The album is not occult rock in a sense because it's probably not rock at all, it’s more like acid folk. It's a horrible horrible record that I think just hangs around because it’s got this occult power to it. It also has this horrible giant guy crawling around on the front, and is of the King Crimson era of prog. It’s very rural, very discordant, there’s lots of jazz chords and textures, but it’s very much psychedelic folk. Comus for me is occult rock because of their song Diana, which is about the huntress Diana. If you listened to that song sat in the middle of the woods in the middle of the night you would genuinely shit yourself. It's got this reality to it, it sounds unhinged. God knows what Comus were smoking. I think it's probably the heaviest album on acoustic instruments that’s ever been recorded, it genuinely freaks me out. If you ever want someone to leave your house put on First Utterance by Comus.
10. Purson - Desire’s Magic Theatre (2016)
Scott: I feel like at the beginning of the occult revival in the late 2000s/2010s, I think everything was skewed heavy, everything was skewed real proto, and Purson were the first ones to bring that kind of British eccentricity, prog and pop into the mix as well. Listening to this album, they sound like nothing else. And aesthetically, they tie into that movement so well. They created a couple of brilliant, brilliant albums.
Tom: It's also way more playful, some of the songs sound like they could be on a 70s BBC children’s TV show, and there’s these lovely Beatle-like bits. And it’s mostly Rosalie I think, the lead singer, who injects the jet darkness into it, because everyone else is very glammy and jaunty, but she has this magnetism, this Grace Slick sort of vibe.
Green Lung’s forthcoming new album, Black Harvest, is due out October 22. Pre-order it now.