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2019-08-25

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD - Infest The Rats' Nest

After five albums in the year 2017 and none in 2018 (well, you can of course argue about the status of "Gumboot Soup" which was first only released digitally on December 31st), 2019 seems to be a medium gizz year with quite normal two releases from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.

After the boogielicious ride on "Fishing For Fishies" with its notoriously exaggerated sweetish title song distracting a little from its overall quality, the crazy Aussie bunch has taken the seemingly most unlikely turn on their already fifteenth studio work since 2011:

"Infest The Rats' Nest" is King Gizzard's thrash metal album!





KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD - Infest The Rat's Nest (red/silver vinyl) (2019)


Thrash has long been probably one of metal's most insular subgenres. Not in terms of popularity of course, since it has birthed same of the biggest metal bands of all time. But stylistically you could only stray from its formula very little without your music being classified as some other thing. The kind of guitar riffs and especially tempos deemed acceptable are almost weirdly specific.

With the years it may have gotten more common to interbreed all kind of different styles of metal with each other and there are tons of death/thrash, blackened thrash etc. bands out there, but it still seems unlikely that a band whose original genre isn't already closely related would just put out their own thrash album and be successful with it.

Yet here are King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard doing the unthinkable. And while some fans are seriously alienated by this step, I must admit that I find it astonishingly suitable for the band.

"Infest The Rats' Nest is a concept record with environmental themes, which isn't new in the Gizz catalogue. In fact the story itself could be a direct successor to the previous album. The chorus "There is no Planet B" in the opener is a direct quote from protest signs often seen at Fridays For Future demonstrations. Fridays For Future --> FFF --> "Fishing For Fishing". It's all connected.

Certain classic thrash metal albums are not on the longest side, so with respect to that "Infest The Rat's Nest" only clocks in after a little more than half an hour. Not too much time to tell a story, especially since Stu Mackenzie sticks to the golden rules of thrash metal lyricism, like: keep it short, so you can easily bellow it! Avoid full sentences! Or: every line should rhyme with "ation".

In short: Earth is fucked, the rich terraform Mars, while the rest of us falls prey to deadly viruses. But then we try to settle Venus, which - spoiler alert! - goes South (of Heaven)...

The soundtrack to this is - have I mentioned it before? - thrash metal, performed by a slim stump version of King Gizzard: just guitars, bass, just one drumkit. No keys or flutes or whatever, this is raw stuff. Only a harmonica is allowed here and there as a sound effect, which you might even miss at the first listen.

The band perfectly captures all the typical genre mannerisms. I already mentioned the lyrics (which are of course broken ironically in typical Gizz fashion several times), but there are also the stop-and-go riffs, the short sick guitar solos, Slayer double leads, the sometimes cringy, but always working early James Hetfield voice.

The only thing not plugged directly from the 1980s is the rhythm guitar sound, which has more of a thick yobbish quality to it.

And of course there are the two (of nine) odd tracks on the first half which are not thrash metal at all:
"Mars For The Rich" sounds more like a 70s hard rock tune with an extra dose of adrenaline, while the by far longest tune "Superbug" is Black Sabbath / Sleep worship not too far from "The Great Chain Of Being" on "Gumboot Soup".

Other than that there are only a couple of small details which really stray from thrash, like the melodic chorus of "Perihelion", which has the potential of sending you to European power metal hell, if it was't in the right hands.
 

As you probably assume: Yes, King Gizzard abandoned almost everything psychedelic on this one.

But they still stay effortlessly recognizable. That's not only because the production maintains a punkish garage vibe close to their own roots.

The band has done heavy stuff before and is used to a fast pace, so to slip into thrash tempo feels quite natural. And they are notorious for their constant use of odd beats like 5/4, 7/4 or 9/4. No exception on this record. They only do them a little different here with the drums remaining straight, while everything around them shifts.

All in all this results in a record which sounds like a mixture of early Bay Area and German thrash metal with pinches of Voivod, Motörhead and stoner stuff.
It's a loving homage to a period, but also strong on its own and clearly one of the most fun King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard albums to date. I tremendously enjoy this shit!


I also love the cover artwork, which to my surprise is not only a photograph of a real sculpture, but also once again is included as a huge poster. And also: The lengths to which some groups go for a group shot, respect! Hot!






My total verdict: Yeah, man. Fuck, yeah!



"Shoot the dingo while this shit goes out the window!"










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