King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat's Nest - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat's Nest

by Kyle Kersey Rating:8 Release Date:2019-08-16
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat's Nest
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat's Nest

This new King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard album kicks ass.

The past few times I reviewed King Gizzard for Soundblab, I wrote very positive reviews largely based upon their initial appeal. This was during a timeframe in which the band released five albums in the span of a year (see 2017 for more), and I think that while the very concept of hopping genres multiple times over a single year was enticing, I find that I was more in love with the concept of the band’s workhorse release schedule than the quality of those actual releases. Most of those albums are victims of quantity over quality; the endless pursuit of making more music rather than making really good, water-tight albums. And I find that, while many of those albums have some strong tracks and interesting concepts, they’re also incredibly messy and underexplored (Murder of the Universe is the biggest offender in the interesting concept but poor execution category).

Come to think of it, the last album of theirs I truly enjoyed all the way through was Flying Microtonal Banana, an exercise in eastern-inspired microtonal tuning. And the last album of theirs I truly loved was Nonagon Infinity, a loose, high-energy garage rock concept album that loops into infinity. It may be only three years old but feels like an eternity ago given the 6 albums released in that timeframe.

Fear not though, as Infest the Rat’s Nest is the band’s most cohesive and well-written album since Nonagon Infinity, doing away with their silly jamming in favor of an aggressive, thrash-metal inspired sound. There’s not much of a gimmick with this one; no microtonal tuning, endless looping or unnecessary voiceovers. Just meat-and-potatoes metal that comes in a few varieties, ranging from Motorhead inspired double-kick-drum heavy metal to Metallica-esque thrash to stoner metal a la Sleep’s Holy Mountain. Stu Mackenzie does his absolute darndest to mimick James Hetfield’s snarl, and the results are surprisingly solid. Basically, if you’re into the genre as a whole, King Gizzard has got you covered.

And they’re bringing back the kind of Nonagon Infinity-esque energy that was sorely missing in the band’s last project, Fishing For Fishies while retaining its eco-conscious message. It’s more urgent this time, replacing a “protect the environment” message with “THE EARTH IS ON FIRE AND WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE YOU FUCKS!” The first half of the album is pretty bluntly a critique of humankind’s incompetent response to climate change and destruction, explained perfectly with the chorus “there is no planet B”. Oddly enough, the very next song “Mars for the Rich” introduces a planet B in Mars, along with a commentary on wealth inequality so I suppose this is simply the musical realization of Elon Musk’s wet dream.

The second half weaves a story about a space-renegades attempting to colonize Venus. So far, so Gizzard, and it’s true that the concept can be goofy, but it’s played 100% straight and, unlike so many other eco-conscious albums, the ending here isn’t optimistic. The crew don’t succeed in colonizing the second planet from the sun, but rather burn both to death in its atmosphere (“Self-Immolate”) and eternally in hell (“Hell”).

In a musical landscape scattered with feel-good politically-masturbatory music, it’s actually refreshing to hear something unafraid to be bleak and make such a scathing indictment on humankind. Most importantly, it’s nice to hear King Gizzard making intense music again.

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