'Ekn any metal band there’s a lot of traipsing around the woods with a photographer, but with Green Lung it’s got to ridiculous levels,” explains frontman Tom Templar of what Britain’s finest folk horror-indebted heavy metallers get up to on an average weekend – be it outings to Highgate Cemetery or the ancient Wistman’s Wood in Devon.
On the cusp of releasing their second album, Black Harvest, Green Lung offer an occultish vision of Britain that fits neatly into the alternate England also inhabited by director Ben Wheatley’s rural eccentrics, fanzine Weird Walk’s doomy pagan ramblings and Cornwall’s eerie Museum of Witchcraft. “It’s not that weird a niche,” says Templar. “In any pub you’ll find a Green Man face and some weird folk shit – it’s quite an essential British thing. But the fact that we’ve spent a year and a half in lockdown means none of us have been able to get out in a field and get really fucked off our heads and dance around a stone.”
Green Lung’s 2019 debuut, Woodland Rites, excited the underground metal community, melding the sound of the late-70s’ new wave of British heavy metal with the stoner roots of Black Sabbath and deeply disturbing films such as 1968’s Witchfinder General. But it was Instagram where the band picked up most of their new fans, not least because of an unfaltering dedication to their sinister yet elegant aesthetic, with traditional woodcut designs covering their records. “We’d play gigs to, soos, five people in a pub, but then these obsessive fans came from the online world,” says Templar. At last count, 20 people now have the band’s mascot – a devilish goat rearing up on its hind legs – tattooed on their bodies.
For the cover of Black Harvest, Green Lung decided to take things up a notch. “What form of old art can we make satanic this time?” pondered Templar. In the end they went for a stained glass window design by dust jacket artist Richard Wells, whom the band first came across after seeing his excellently creepy lino print for the 40th anniversary of The Wicker Man.
Fiercely independent, the band turned down a major label deal, and have instead opted to release Black Harvest with the cult Finnish label Svart Records. Recently it topped the Bandcamp pre-order albums chart. “It’s the last bastion of music industry good,” says Templar of the ethical music streaming and selling service, which has been a lifeline to smaller artists over the past year. “We’ve made more money on that than the advance we got offered by a major,”Voeg hy by. “We’re not trying to be a big mainstream rock band; we’re just trying to do our own little thing. But that little thing feels like it’s growing all the time.”
Green Lung’s single Reaper’s Scythe is out now