King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
Infest the Rat’s Nest
Year of release: 2019
by Jericho Cerrona
After releasing five albums in 2017, Australian genre-hoppers King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard took time off (not really, since they spent most of 2018 touring) in order to get back to their prolific streak. First came Fishing for Fishes; a boogie funk/blues album with an environmental message, but the shift to their latest LP, Infest the Rat’s Nest, might be their biggest curveball yet. The band has always dabbled in insane time signatures and blistering riffs, but rarely in the trash metal genre, and the Melbourne boys pull it off with ferocity here.
Ripping a page from Master of Puppets-era Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, and Motörhead, King Gizzard have paired down their usually crowded member base to vocalist Stuart Mackenzie, guitarist Joey Walker and drummer Michael Cavanagh, resulting in some of their heaviest music yet. This is no-frills type metal from a group with a penchant for wild tangents and progressive noodling, and at times, the experience threatens to become 80s thrash pastiche. However, King Gizzard are so skilled at this particular homage that they are somehow able to translate their psychedelic weirdness into the meat-and-potatoes metal stylings without allowing the sonic scales to tip over into silliness.
Trafficking in yet another environmental cautionary tale, Infest the Rat’s Nest is an apocalyptic nightmare full of burning human flesh, disease-ridden humans, and planetary meltdown. Tracks like the throttling opener “Plan B” and the Sabbath-esque “Mars for the Rich” fly out of the gate with thundering simplicity. The speed thrash of “Organ Farmer” will increase the heart rate, while the slow chugging stomper “Superbug” conjures Lemmy Kilmister on a stoner binge. All the while, the lyrical narrative eventually dovetails into the plight of a group of humans escaping our doomed planet to live on Venus.
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard seem unafraid of pursuing any genre or sound as long as they are having a blast doing it. If one were being cynical, Infest the Rat’s Nest could be viewed as Halloween costume ball metal; the kind of the thing a bunch of drunk friends throw together simply to geek out on music they listened to as teenagers. However, King Gizzard simply have the songwriting chops and blazing riffs that will have doubters head-banging with reckless abandon. What’s next, boys? A psychedelic polka party album? The year is still young.