King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have always been an unpredictable, and slightly eccentric band. From their obscure song titles; genre-bending psychedelia; and to that one time back in 2017 when they released five albums over the course of the year – it’s safe to say that they like to challenge themselves.
Just four months after the release of the gooey, jazz infused Fishing for Fishies, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have unleashed their most out-there project to date. Delving into the realms of space metal, Infest The Rats’ Nest sees the band exploring our planet’s fate in the age of ecological shifts and environmental degradation – consuming and destroying ourselves until there’s nothing left to do but implode. If Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds was re-imagined by Slayer, it would sound like this album. Normally, the Aussie’s work as a seven-piece band, but it was up to guitarists Joey Walker and Stu Mackenzie – who also takes on main vocal duty – to split bass and guitar parts, whilst Michael Cavanagh had to take on all drum parts due to the rest of the band members having other commitments. Fret not – the sound is still just as mighty with more than half of the band missing.
Emulating all of the best bands of the heavier genres, there are a fair few moments where a riff or lyrical melody sounds familiar – there’s the Iron Maiden story-telling of ‘Mars For The Rich’, the Megadeth delivery of ‘Organ Farmer’, and the Judas Priest riffage of ‘Venusian 2’, but not for one second do these similarities feel like forgery. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have taken all of their favourite elements of iconic songs, and elevated them into futuristic craftwork. Beneath the rubble of the raw, analogous, shredding, the intoxicating psychedelic sound that the band are famed for oozes out like lava. ‘Superbug’ is the war cry we will all sing when we’re fighting Mad Max style in order to protect ourselves from the diseases that get thawed out from the ice-caps, post global meltdown, whilst ‘Perihelion’ is the outcome of us succumbing to the unbearable power of the sun, “reigning sun has sinners for dinner”.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard aren’t just exploring their musical capabilities – they’re telling a story. Even though the songs sound completely different from each other, there are certain riffs which bleed throughout certain songs, into others, despite them not being placed together. ‘Venusian 1’ and ‘Venusian 2’ are an attack on the senses. The guitars battle each other in what feels like the sound of alien missiles scrambling together to shoot down incoming ships. ‘Self-Immolate’ offsets biting static guitars with discombobulating synths to give the feeling that you’re stuck in the madhouse of someone’s mind – “Venusian sickness dire / I want to be set on fire / Venusian gather while I / Venutially catch on fire” – this comes off as a misanthropic masochism. Given what we’re doing to this planet, maybe we deserve to face the wrath of the Venusian sun and all of its worshippers.
Infest The Rats’ Nest is released on 16 August 2019 via Flightless.