Each Green Lung LP has boasted beautiful graphic design, but their third album’s packaging drops this bewitching London quintet squarely in the realm of the hauntological – that strange phenomenon taking its cues from distorted
childhood memories of unsettling, British post-war cultural aesthetics. The pastiche of a 1970s Pelican paperback, and the opening documentary sample, immediately suggest This Heathen Land is a metallic iteration of the movement generated by the Ghost Box label – all spooky Radiophonic synths and twee psychedelia with folk-horror under- currents. The map of occult sites that comes with the vinyl is Scarfolk to a tee.
It’s a milieu that fits Green Lung snugly, even if there are more 90s influences and American reference points than you might expect – although infectious opener The Forest Church nails their ‘folklore, riffs and legends of Britain’ USP perfectly. Mountain Throne launches on a groove that recalls Cathedral in their pre-millennial ‘fun phase’, while the doomy One For Sorrow (not a Steps cover, alas) even works in a Dimebag-damaged detuned breakdown riff. At first, this juxtaposition feels a bit jarring, but the disorientating time-scoop effect is a classic hauntological gambit, and, presumably for these musicians, Pantera and the stoner rock boom are as much an offbeat trigger of childhood nostalgia as Yessongs and the Bagpuss soundtrack were to the previous generation.
The synths are a consistent joy, while the effervescent twin guitars are discreetly heroic – the organ/axe trade-offs on rollicking highlight Hunters In The Sky are a special treat. Tom Templar’s eccentric pipes walk a fine line between atmospheric storyteller and hard rock party-starter, his multi-tracked harmonies sometimes beguiling – as on Song Of The Stones, the LP’s only pure ritualistic folk tune – sometimes alarming. Most importantly, the sheer quality of songwriting edges ever upwards.
This Heathen Land is out this Friday, November 3, via Nuclear Blast