King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Infest The Rats Nest Album Review

Flightless Records – 2019

Hell hath no fury like an angry Australian. 

When you hear the name King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard casual listeners might be forgiven for thinking they were ‘that psychedelic rock band from Australia’ but dedicated fans would be quick to correct you as in their 10 years of playing and 15 album output much has changed in that time. From the funk-jazz collaboration with Mild High Club on ‘Sketches of Brunswick East’  to the spoken word ‘concept album to end all albums’ on ‘Murder Of The Universe’ King Gizzards sound has always been hard to define yet each release stays consistently ‘Gizz-ish’ for lack of a better term, and consistently good at that. Earlier in the year they released their first album after a years break, a long time in King Gizzard terms after delivering 5 in 2017, the bluesy boogie-woogie induced ‘Fishing For Fishies’ which saw them tackle issues of climate change and the over reliance on fishing. This album almost felt like a soft release compared to some of their output and hinted towards a sign of maybe King Gizzard were slowing it down a bit. How wrong we were.

Thrash metal to put it simply has no time for slackers. It’s time to throw away those LSD induced tie-dye t-shirts, don those black jeans, black shirts, black doc martins, that black eye liner you bought for ‘maybe one day if I feel like it’ and get ready to punch your neighbour in the pit. Although this may be one of their shortest releases at 34 minutes, this album is all killer and definitely no filler. 

Leaving no time for fancy introductions the crashing drums of ‘Planet B’ set into motion the pace for the whole album, intense. Heavy guitars hit hard from every direction with much more intent than they ever have before. “Open your eyes and see, there is no Planet B” screams lead singer Stu Mackenzie telling the audience exactly how it is outside their own window. The world is on fire and if we don’t do something there’s no alternative. Anthemic and loud, it wouldn’t feel out of place blasting out of the speakers of an Extinction Rebellion rally.

Staying with the ‘woke’ feeling of the album ‘Mars For The Rich’ tells the story of a field worker who dreams of leaving his burning planet to go to Mars, but as the song says “Just forget it, you ‘aint coming here; the tickets too dear” as Mars has been inhabited by only those who can afford it, the rich, perhaps a slight nod to the recent rise in space tourism trips that really are only for the rich. The riffs on this song are perhaps the most bluesy of the album and slowed and calmed down wouldn’t feel out of place on one their less heavy releases like ‘I’m In Your Mind Fuzz’.

‘Organ Farmer’ could easily be argued as the bands hardest hitting song to date. The riff heavy guitars almost feel like they could be cutting into your skin just like the ‘Organ Farmer’ being described in chilling detail, “blood minestrone, fatty rolls are free”. The thrash comes fully into action on this song as the drums and bass move in unison to create a beat that moves like a train down a rail line and it ain’t stopping to let you off. Expect heavy moshing at a Gizzard gig to this one.

Although the album may only be 34 minutes long, almost a quarter of that run time is taken up by the epic story that is ‘Superbug’. With a riff that’s almost reminiscent of ‘Road Train’ off of ‘Nonagon Infinity’, ‘Superbug’ tells the story of a desolated planet that’s running out of options to fight off this disease that has “likely killed humanity” sound familiar?  Again taking parts from their bluesy past King Gizzard deliver a hard hitting headbanger that builds to a an almost gothic like climax and leaves you begging for more from the second side of this album. And more is what you get.

The next 3 tracks tell yet another mini story within this grand tapestry of a not so far fetched future. ‘Venusian 1’, ‘Perihilion’ and ‘Venusian 2’ all tell the tale of a band of travellers looking for a place after leaving their desolated planet. They then pass by the sun and are tempted to crash themselves into it after the satan tempts them towards the fiery oblivion. Although these tracks don’t throw up a huge amount of new ideas within the sound that can’t be found within the previous four, the harmonies found on these 3 are some of the best on a King Gizzard album to date. The stars cascade by outside your window as the chugging riffs carry you along this 3 part journey through the cosmos.

The call to hell beckons on the last two tracks as the opening drums on ‘Self-Immolate’ wouldn’t be out of place on an old war ship, carrying its troops to their final fate. “I have gone insane-o. I lust for volcano” growls Stu Mackenzie as this track kicks into action and the nightmare fuelled sonic landscape created within the crunching guitars and furious solos feels like you really might have gone insane-o. Perhaps the most enraged and intense track on the album, telling the story of how these travellers lust to be set on fire, ‘Self-Immolate’ could easily take the crown for the defining Gizz-metal (a new sub-genre?) track.

Finally we descend into our long awaited destination, Hell. Again a more bluesy riff on this track but sped up about 200%. Everything on this track hits hard, the drums, the crunching guitars, the heavy bass and the more pumped than ever vocals as the the travellers make their final descent. With Satan as their guide, the travellers are finally told to “Infest the rats nest” as “15 infantry paratroop into the propylene new scene”. Could this be Satan telling the travellers to take revenge upon the rich who first ravaged their planet and then left for a new one? Or perhaps it’s a more literal take with the accompanying video game that was released where the player literally shoots down rats in a Call Of Duty style first person shooter. Either way the story has concluded for now and fans will be eagerly awaiting for more.

The overall production on this album keeps with the vintage feel of most King Gizzard records, setting it slightly aside from other thrash metal releases recently. The bass is mix warm, the drums feel heavier than ever and the vocals pack a punch. Although this may be the band’s most ‘ out there’ record to date they still keep a few of their usual quirky qualities, such as the screeching guitars and wild vocal effects. And it wouldn’t be a King Gizzard album without mentioning the various odd time signatures used, with beats changing almost on a bar basis. Moshing in 4/3 has never felt better.

Although the story embezzled within this album may screech past at light-speed as it escapes into the night sky, the dystopian nightmare hells-cape that King Gizzard have created will long be imprinted in your mind. 


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