This Heathen Land

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Prologue
02. The Forest Church
03. Mountain Throne
04. Maxine (Witch Queen)
05. One For Sorrow
06. Song Of The Stones
07. The Ancient Ways
08. Hunters In The Sky
09. Oceans Of Time

Exhibiting a rare gift for inducing goosebumps from the start, GREEN LUNG were instantly identifiable as something special. From the UK band's debut EP "Free The Witch" (2018) to their 2019 debut album "Woodland Rites" and its universally acclaimed follow-up, "Black Harvest", two years later, they have yet to put a foot wrong. Having casually established their unique position as arch blenders of thunderous doom metal, organ-driven '70s rock, pastoral psychedelia and all manner of occult and witch-friendly imagery and folklore, GREEN LUNG's move to a big label was inevitable. If this band isn't huge within two years, something has gone terribly wrong. A curse, perhaps.

A lot of people are very excited about GREEN LUNG, and "This Heathen Land" makes it plain exactly why. As with both their previous records, the Brits' debut for NUCLEAR BLAST is remarkably assured and meticulously crafted. The spine-tingling promise of "a journey into occult Albion" ("Prologue" or "The Forest Church Intro") and the subsequent eruption of riffs and organ trills that is "The Forest Church" provide the perfect spectral doorway into GREEN LUNG's world. Thereafter, the wild hybrid revealed on their first three releases is gently expanded in real time, with more adventurous arrangements overall, and even an unapologetic psych-pop crowd-pleaser ("Maxine") that will stick around in your now officially haunted head for weeks.

Where GREEN LUNG really excel is in big, riff-powered epics that summon the vital magic of the great outdoors, while simultaneously conjuring mischievous spirits from the autumnal ether. "Mountain Throne" is an absolute monster: heavy as hell, but rich in detail and a genuinely stirring take on that ageless "Children Of The Grave" boogie. It is as grand and windswept as the icy landscapes it aims to evoke. "One For Sorrow" is even better. The heaviest song GREEN LUNG have released to date, it marries frontman Tom Templar's riveting, ethereal vocals with a blearily progressive sprawl of evil doom riffs, clanging bells and dreamy analogue keyboard runs. The melodramatic rush of the chorus is a thing of great, bittersweet beauty, and leads into a brutal HELMET-style riff, augmented with trippy synth arpeggios and an oppressive air of mortal dread.

Next, "Song Of The Stones" ventures into moonlit acid folk, seemingly another lethal weapon in GREEN LUNG's medieval arsenal. Plaintive but potent, it gives "This Heathen Land" a depth and diversity that makes the band's pagan phantasmagoria all the more well-rounded and convincing. After the haughty, doomed-out grandeur of "The Ancient Ways" and the snake-hipped shuffle of "Hunters In The Sky", GREEN LUNG's third magnificent album in a row soars off into the frosty night with the lysergic furore of "Oceans Of Time"; its eerily insistent refrain echoing through the trees.

There is actual magic afoot, folks. "This Heathen Land" is an insanely great record, and GREEN LUNG deserve to be massive.

Author: Dom Lawson
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