Review & Full EP Stream: Green Lung, Free the Witch

green lung Free the Witch

[Click play above to stream the Free the Witch EP by Green Lung in its entirety. EP is out Feb. 19 on Deckhead Records.]

It’s only been eight months or so since London’s Green Lung issued their debut two-songer digital single, but apparently that’s been enough time for them to clarify a few things about their sound. Most notably: their sound itself. With the Deckhead Records tape release of their debut EP, the four-song Free the Witch, the four-piece turn away from some of the more blown-out aspects of the prior Green Man Rising (review here), with a crisp production that brooks no sacrifice either in its atmospheric spaces or tonal depth but nonetheless strikes with a clean, bright impression, whether it’s in the righteous hooks of opening duo “Lady Lucifer” and “Free the Witch” — which seem to be in competition with each other to determine the catchier chorus — or in “Living Fossil” and the eight-minute finale “Older than the Hills,” which respectively delve into low-end-driven nod (still pretty damn catchy) and slower, more patient build and payoff (also still pretty damn catchy).

Of course, a big part of the difference might be that this time around, Green Lung, which is comprised of vocalist Tom Templar, guitarist Scott Masson, bassist Andrew Cave and drummer Matt Wiseman, went to an actual studio — Bear Bites Horse, where the likes of Torpor, Terminal Cheesecake and Vodun have also recorded — to work with engineer/mixer Wayne Adams instead of putting the songs to tape in their practice space as they did with Green Man Rising, but another way in which Free the Witch distinguishes itself from the prior outing and in general is in the band’s focus on structure. These songs are executed with purpose, and while they have a flow, most especially between the latter two on a one-into-the-next level, and a sense of space throughout, they remain vigilant in their direction. They are as efficient.

That’s not to say they’re spare. “Lady Lucifer,” “Free the Witch” and “Living Fossil” all run between five and six minutes long, and even in the raucous, crashing opener — which surely would be or would’ve been or could still be, I suppose, a highlight of any debut full-length — there is room in that time for atmospheric diverging. This comes paired with a notable change in the vocal approach of Templar, who gave hints of the echoing style he uses here on “Green Man Rising,” but seems at least for the time being to have left behind the gruff, Ben Ward-style bark with which that post-Sabbath melodic approach shared time. It is another way in which Green Lung seem to be following the path of fellow Londoners Elephant Tree, whose aesthetic underwent similar clarifying between their first EP and album.

green lung

I wouldn’t bet that Green Lung are finished growing into themselves, but as “Lady Lucifer” gives way with a drum fill to the forward gallop of the complementary “Free the Witch” — a two-sided tape, indeed, since the latter ends in silence before “Living Fossil” takes hold — the work they’ve undertaken in beginning their progression is appreciable both in its effort and outcome. Their debut EP, in other words, kicks a good bit of ass. And as an early-outing EP should, it acts as a showcase of their material and potential for the longer term; promise displayed in their songwriting and breadth alike. “Free the Witch,” with a noteworthy guest organ spot in a pre-solo jam section by Joe Murgatroyd (also backing vocals), resolves with a slowdown into largesse that earns Templar‘s cavernous effects, and eases the way into “Living Fossil,” which though faster initially, continues to broaden the sphere.

While it seems to follow a similar structure to the title-track, with a bass-led break from the boogie at its midpoint where the preceding cut was more guitar-led, instead the penultimate cut picks up with its chorus again and moves into a secondary hook to finish with a vibrant last push and a ringout that paves the way for Cave to set the stage for “Older than the Hills,” which pushes further outward. Much as they were able to control the stricter chorusmaking of “Lady Lucifer,” so too do Green Lung prove ready to handle the increased stretch of “Older than the Hills,” which, again, is the slowest and most patient inclusion here, proclaiming its hook in a wide space of its own creation.

If it seems like I’m painting a picture of nothing but encouraging signs from the band, I am, and consciously, but that’s not to say I think their creative evolution has peaked or is finished. Rather, what’s impossible not to take away from Free the Witch is that Green Lungas a unit have begun what one hopes will be the ongoing task of growing as a band, and while their first single indicated a drive toward an individualized sound, to hear that come so much more to fruition after such a short stretch of time is satisfying to say the least. It is still soon to speculate on what a debut long-player from them might bring, but if they’re able to employ the lessons of these songs the way they were those of the single coming into this EP, they would seem to be poised to make a significant sonic impact. The real work is ahead of them, but even in leading one to think of Green Lung‘s longer-term prospects, Free the Witch helps establish their presence in London’s crowded scene and in the greater heavy underground. A success on every level.

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One Response to “Review & Full EP Stream: Green Lung, Free the Witch

  1. Dave says:

    Sounds pretty cool, reminds me of Dozer quite a bit. I’ll be checking this out.

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