‘Woodland Rites’ brings black metal music back from the dead

Spencer Wakefield, Staff Writer

The United Kingdom has long been a bastion for heavy metal. The bands that defined the genre’s sound, like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath were all born out of the London heavy underground scene of the 1960s and 70s. While metal has had numerous mutations and subgenres since the misty past of the 1960s, that scene is still alive and well today, as evidenced by the classic metal sounds of Green Lung’s debut album “Woodland Rites,” released in October of 2020. Evoking demons and pagan gods throughout its 45 minute eight track run, the album is perfect for this most spooky of seasons. 

Each of the eight tracks evokes classic black metal trappings, very obviously taking inspiration from Black Sabbath’s earlier work. The lyrics call on demons, old gods, and the spirits of the land. “Templar Dawn,” one of the album’s stand out tracks, is from the perspective of former crusaders-turned-demons clawing their way back to the land of the living. The riffs in many of these songs are equally demonic in nature, with many of them elevating the songs from above average to spectacular. The title track, “Woodland Rites,” perfectly fits the album’s art, a circle of creatures and occultists dancing around the figure of Baphomet. The second half of the album is much slower than its start, with an organ becoming a noticeable part of the backing instrumentals during track six, “Call of the Coven,” which is admittedly a rather high tempo piece. The penultimate track “May Queen” calls upon the spirits of Led Zeppelin for its sound, and is a slow and emotional piece. 

The guitar in this album is what I would describe as “sludgy.” It feels like you are wading through a musical tar pit in the best way possible. It is slow, thick, and heavy, especially on tracks like “Templar Dawn” and “The Ritual Tree.” Guitarist Scott Black is absolutely the star of the show, even with the other instruments being played competently and the haunting Ozzy Osbourne inspired vocals provided by vocalist Tom Templar. “Woodland Rites” is an extremely promising debut after the band established their sound with the 2019 EP “Free The Witch” and their second album, “Black Harvest,” is out Oct. 22. Through both the lyrical content and instrumentals, the album evokes the trappings of folk horror, as established by films like the original version of “The Wicker Man” and brought back into recent popularity by ones like “Midsommar.” Overall, “Woodland Rites” is a perfect album for celebrating All Hallow’s Eve. It is a record I would advise any metal fan to give a listen.