Back in 2019, I instantly fell in love with Green Lung‘s brand of wide-eyed, green-painted, pagan stoner metal/rock. There was something so vibrant and fresh about their music. Sure, there isn’t a dearth of throwback bands out there today. In fact, if you look at “just” the plain music of these bands, it looks pretty similar: pentatonic scales, raspy vocals, songs about old gods or maybe weed (or both), plenty of feedback and distortion, and the such. But the fact remains that some bands “have it” and some bands don’t and Green Lung sure do “have it”. They have that oomph, the sense for the big riff and the sweeping vocal hooks, the sense of life pumping through note and every scream and every word. The sense of freedom of vibrancy which makes not just stoner but all of rock n’ roll. In short, Green Lung rock and they rock harder than most.
Taking all of that into account, you can probably guess that I am incredibly excited for their upcoming release, Black Harvest, which comes to us October 22nd. Because I am! And to get all of you as hyped as I am (having, you know, heard the album), I present to you with The Anatomy Of Green Lung! Some of the albums below make a lot of sense; I would have been shocked if Cathedral weren’t on here, underrated as they are. Boston and Uriah Heep make a lot of sense but it’s also a delight to see which Queen album was picked (my personal favorite Queen work) and the inclusion of Richard Dawson. In short, this list rules and contains some excellent choices which paint Green Lung’s music with just the right amount of verve to perhaps explain where they get their mastery of rock n’ roll from.
Enjoy the list below and don’t forget to pre-order Black Harvest from the Bandcamp page below. Let’s return, once again, into the wild!
Scott Black (Guitar)
Queen – Flash Gordon OST
Brian May’s approach to guitar playing has been hugely influential to Green Lung and the Flash Gordon OST has many great examples of my favourite ‘Brian-isms’. The multi-part guitar harmonies we use are the most obvious nod to Brian, however, the biggest impact he has had on Green Lung isn’t the harmonies, but his approach to chord connection and harmony in and of itself.
Brian is a master of voice leading, something that is fairly uncommon in heavy guitar music. The big harmonised guitar motif on the Flash OST (heard at 0.24-0.28 of ‘Battle Theme’) is a great example of this. Rather than using block chords leaping from one shape to another, Brian makes great use of chord inversions and the harmonic interplay between different chords and their inner voices. This gives his progressions more fluid movement and melodic direction.
This is something that comes as second nature to anyone who plays piano, but is a concept that is often quite alien to a lot of rock and metal guitar players, so it really stands out and catches the ear. It lends a regal, bombastic feel, which I really like. From the first track to the last of Black Harvest, we use this heavily in the guitar playing and bass guitar.
Standout tracks: ‘Flash’s Theme’, ‘Battle Theme’, ‘The Hero’
Uriah Heep – Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble
A blaring, overdriven organ whirling out of a Leslie speaker is arguably the coolest sound in hard rock, and the greater emphasis on organ is the largest sonic evolution from Woodland Rites into Black Harvest. We achieved a lot of the organ sounds by blending a Hammond B3 into a rotating Leslie and an overdriven AC30 guitar amp, which is similar to the kind of production techniques Ken Hensley and Jon Lord used.
While Jon Lord is probably the best comparison in terms of what we were aiming for musically in the organ breaks and leads, Uriah Heep’s frenetic, madcap approach to the organ is the spirit we wanted. It’s breathless, crazy and always sounds like it’s on the verge of collapse. “Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble” is not only one of the greatest proto-metal records, but an awesome monument to the power of rock organ. It also flirted with the idea of having duelling guitar/organ lead breaks, which is something that we’ve used a lot on the new record. Black Harvest is full of blistering organ lead breaks thanks to our fleet-fingered keys player John, and it is a great counterpoint to the lead guitar sound.
I am a sucker for duelling lead guitars. I’ve always liked bands that have two distinct personalities on the lead guitar. King/Hanneman, Smith/Murray, Downing/Tipton were heroes of mine when I was a grotty teenager, so I’ve enjoyed trying to do a similar concept but with a demented, heavily distorted organ and blazing guitars. It never fails to put a smile on my face.
Standout tracks: ‘Gypsy’, ‘Walking in Your Shadow’, ‘Real Turned On’
Boston – Boston
I owe a lot of the way I play and arrange layered lead guitar parts to Tom Scholtz, but it is the vocals that informed a lot of the backing vocals on Black Harvest. Backing vocals have slowly grown from being a bit of padding on our first EP, to a key part of the sound on Black Harvest. We wanted to make them a melodic entity in and of itself, wrapping around and complementing the main vocal hooks, rather than just harmonies backing the main top line. Boston are fantastic at doing this and moments such as the “demonic choir” in the middle of ‘Reaper’s Scythe’ are borne out of and directly inspired by that late 70s era of melodic pop rock.
Joseph Ghast joined us on bass mid-way through writing the album, but he has been a longtime collaborator, having done all the backing vocals on prior Green Lung releases (as well as contributing saxophone, clarinet, organ, percussion, and an odd Chinese dulcimer, the name of which escapes me). He is a fantastic singer and musician/arranger, so he has been an important part of developing our increasingly ambitious vocal arrangements. It is something for which I quietly curse him every time I need to try and do one his high parts live.
Standout tracks: ‘More Than a Feeling’, ‘Peace of Mind’, ‘Foreplay/Long Time’
Tom Templar (Vocals)
Cathedral – The Carnival Bizarre
Cathedral were the band that initiated me into the world of doom, when I caught them supporting Cradle of Filth at a gig at the UEA as a teenager in the early 2000s and fell into the groove. I’ve definitely taken a lot of influence from their approach to the genre – for me, Lee Dorrian is the metal equivalent of Mark E Smith in his eccentric, belligerent pursuit of a very specific musical paradigm, which I find admirable.
Anyone who’s heard ‘Night of the Seagulls’ on this record will recognise its influence on our own ‘Templar Dawn’ – the lyrics were intended both as a tribute to the Blind Dead films and to Cathedral’s tradition of de Ossorio-worshipping bangers. But more than that, Cathedral managed to make doom that was at once seismically heavy and for want of a better word, fun.
We’re a heavy band who play with the darkness of folk horror – but we’re also a bunch of pissheads who can be found stumbling around festival fields in a state after our set is over. Cathedral also manage to make doom songs big party tunes, and find some humour in their brand of sonic evil – just listen to Dorrian bellowing ‘Huggy Bear ooh yeah’ on ‘Utopian Blaster’…
Standout tracks: ‘Vampire Sun’, ‘Hopkins (The Witchfinder General)’, ‘Night of the Seagulls’
Richard Dawson – Peasant
It’s sometimes strange to hear what genre boxes your band gets put in – we’ve been described as everything from doom metal to stoner rock to heavy psych to occult rock. There’s probably some truth to all those labels. But we’re also frequently referred to as ‘folk metal’, which is down to the lyrics more than the music I think. I’ve long been inspired by not only folk horror cinema and imagery (which should be obvious to anyone with even a passing interest in the band), but folk music itself – especially the pastoral psychedelic folk of the late sixties and early seventies, from the Incredible String Band and Pentangle to Bridget St John and Comus.
Richard Dawson’s album Peasant seems descended from that tradition, and really struck me when it was released in 2017, around the same time we started Green Lung. I think he’s probably Britain’s greatest living lyricist, and he uses folk traditions in a very contemporary, idiosyncratic way – the world the album conjures is as rich and distinctively English in imagery as Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, albeit on an intimate scale.
I remember being very inspired by the way Dawson creates quasi-mythic stories based in the ancient kingdom of Bryneich (which once stretched across his home turf of the North East) to interrogate present day themes like immigration and war. He chooses words not often heard in lyrics – ‘sheepdung’, ‘peatsmoke’ or ‘toadsong’, for instance! – and conjures up little worlds with each song, which is something I also aim to do. It’s no coincidence that I finally cracked the lyrics to ‘May Queen’ after listening to this album late one summer night…
How could anyone resist lines as vivid and strange as ‘the heartbroken potter’s idiot boy was snatched from the speltfield’?
Standout tracks: ‘Ogre’, ‘Soldier’, ‘Scientist’
Electric Wizard – Witchcult Today
I remember seeing Electric Wizard on the We Live tour and finding them fascinating and insanely heavy. But it wasn’t until they released Witchcult Today that I became a true signed-up member of the cult.
I love their early albums as much as anyone, but Witchcult Today will always be my favourite – for me it was the perfect mix of analogue heaviness with catchy, sing-along vocal melodies. Much like another of my most-spun records of the era, Reverend Bizarre’s Crush the Insects, there’s a balance of crushing riffs with memorable choruses and hooks. And I loved the way they dragged cinematic imagery into a psychedelic metal setting – from ‘Dunwich’ invoking Lovecraft to ‘Satanic Rites of Drugula’ with its OTT Hammer Horror meets LSD storyline.
Most of all, this record was an inspiration for Green Lung in the way it seemed to contain an entire subcultural world of weird 70s euro horror cinema, witchcraft magazines, and weird fiction that you just wanted to dive into. I want Green Lung to offer the same portal into another world – we’re more about folklore and pastoral horror, but hopefully our music has also initiated fans into another realm of ‘occulture’…
Standout tracks: ‘Dunwich’, ‘Satanic Rites of Drugula’, ‘The Chosen Few’