There now appear to be as many retro minded occult rock bands using Hammer Horror samples as there were films made by those masters of the macabre.  South London’s Green Lung are coughing up their debut Woodland Rites on the date of the Spring Equinox (March 20th for all you non pagans). Their “Free the Witch EP and accompanying nun based merch made a stir in the doom and bell bottomed world last year, so this release on Kozmik Artifactz was always going to appeal to the hirsute hand rollers of the rock world.

Comparison will always be made with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats who are currently stomping through the USA, taking a little of the English countryside a la Matthew Hopkins to the colonies.

Green Lung are dried leaves from the same branch as the aforementioned troubadours , offering up rousing 70’s proto metal with a witches ladle of Cathedral doom rock. It’s hokey and earthy and the sets are a little wobbly but the tales Green Lung tell are great fun and the music is grandiose and definitely in technicolour.  Prog, folk, doom, classic rock and metal are all plunged into the cauldron for this concoction.

We are led down the woodland path by “Initiation”, starting as a gentle folk ditty before we enter the full foliage and the harmonized guitars lead us deeper. “Woodland Rites” is full patchouli drenched corduroy flares heavy. No going back. It’s orgies by fire light from here on in!

“Let the Devil In” is the single of sorts and owns a riff as big as the fallen angel himself. It has the stomp of Slade and the sneer of Ozzy. The subject matter and lyrics are very Papa Ghost but this is no BOC worship – much more Glam Rock doom than AOR with facepaint.  “The Ritual Tree” opens with a haunting organ as we are beckoned to the arboreal altar. As I am listening my mind is conjuring up scenes from Kill List as the huge doomy hooks embed themselves in my ears.  Google “Who put Bella in the Wych Elm”. Fantastic bit of British folklore on which this song is based.

“Templar Dawn” features a snippet from once banned Spanish/Portuguese horror flick “Tombs of the Blind Dead” .  Green Lung’s take on it is deliciously corny – I keep expecting to hear a Great Dane laugh in the background and Mr Wither’s the groundskeeper to be unmasked. Popcorn Rock anyone?

“She came out of curiosity, Was drugged into submission. Now she’s a witch” – change the gender and that could be on my tombstone. “Call of the Coven” is a groovy rocker engulfed in sweet smelling smoke. Not often you hear the word somnambulating in a song. Obviously Scrabble players!

People of a certain age may remember the agony of having to dance round May poles at primary school. Forced to hold hands with members of the opposite gender whom you were barely tolerating in the playground and skip about holding plastic ribbons attached to a pole.  “May Queen” has put me more in touch with English pagan roots in 6 and a half years than all those clammy practices ever did.  Soaring guitar breaks fire arrows to appease the Green Man.

“Into the Wild” adds a little bit of blues into the elixir which gives a wonderful widening of the sound. Like an escape into the plains of Wyoming from a woodland in Worcestershire. Our guide goes up a mountain, sits back and watches the world burn. Sounds like a lot of us in 2019.

This album is organic. There is so much fakery about at the moment. Smoke and mirrors. Charlatans in the emperor’s new clothes. Green Lung tread a well-worn path but they do so with pride, humour and a fantastic ear for a catchy song. What more do you want from forest folk?

(8/10 Matt Mason)