I still remember the first time I listened to Green Lung's debut release, Woodland Rites, and the sheer, electric excitement it brought me. It was a year filled with great stoner rock but something about Woodland Rites grabbed me and wouldn't let go. It might have been the appeal to British paganism and countryside, which has always been one of my weak spots. It more probably was the intoxicating combo of joyful, powerful vocals and an excellent understanding of what makes great stoner rock work, namely passion and force of delivery. This all meant that the album's follow up, Black Harvest, had a lot to live up to. Sadly, it didn't quite do that; it was a good release, and I still visit tracks from it from time to time, but it didn't quite have the same gusto as Woodland Rites. It felt like more of the same, where I wanted Green Lung to keep pushing higher.
Luckily, they've done just with their upcoming release, This Heathen Land. While the first half of the album is filled with what has become pretty standard tracks for Green Lung, the second half of it drives things into new realms of excellence. The tracks on the first are riff-centric, groovy, rocking pieces of music, Green Lung in the more anthemic mode. But the second half, starting with the absolutely brilliant "One For Sorrow", something shifts. That track, probably my favorite from Green Lung, ever, is way slower and heavier than what we've heard from them so far. Great choruses, a fantastic and evolving structure, and brilliant use of synths, makes this track the most epic we've heard the band be, ever. It's simply a mind-blowingly good track, running the Green Lung formula through a filter just a shade darker but all the better for being that.
From there, things don't quite go back to normal, with the exception of the fun and uplifting "Hunters in the Sky". The other three tracks are more psychedelic, more expansive, and just plain longer than we've heard Green Lung before, even if their runtimes aren't the longest of their career. There's more space and ambience than we've ever heard from the band, especially on the other stand out track from the album, closer "Oceans of Time". Replete with Pink Floyd-esque synth melodies, undulating feedback, and a main guitar lead line that's impossible to resist, this is such a brilliantly maximalist track to close off of. It feels like Green Lung via 80's hard rock via Pink Floyd; it feels so good as an album closer, a swaying, massive track to close everything out.
Bottom line, This Heathen Land is the follow up to Woodland Rites that I've always wanted. It almost feels like Black Harvest was the band looking around and saying "what, can we do this?", with their fans answering in the positive and asking for more. Or maybe that's all just in my end. What's important is that we did get more and it is glorious! This Heathen Land confirms the Green Lung hype and proves they are more than just one great album - they are a great band, one of the best operating in the stoner rock spaces today!
This Heathen Land will be released on November 3rd. Please head on over to the band's Bandcamp page above to get it - don't miss out!