King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard: Infest The Rat's Nest, review

It's official - King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are the unassailable guitar Gods of the 21st century.

Henry Lewis

Date published: 19th Aug 2019

Is there a more excessively talented band in the entire universe at this moment in time than King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard?

With the release of Infest The Rat's Nest, the band's fifteenth album and second this year, the Aussie collective have ventured off down the path of yet another musical direction, this time taking an adolescent love for metal and placing it firmly at the centre of their creative process.

In subject matter at least, Infest the Rat's Nest acts as a sequel to Fishing for Fishies (the band's April 2019 release), discussing the damage being done to the planet we all inhabit. In opening track, 'Planet B', they exclaim "There is no planet B", and thus, if we keep fucking up planet A we're all doomed.

You could take this record as the Metallica-loving, Monster-drinking elder brother of Fishing For Fishes, which, in its title track, issued a warning about overfishing, while in 'Plastic Boogie' shouts: "Fuck all of those plastic / Particles in the ocean / It's like a vendetta / Against our Mother Nature".

Here these themes are continued, but in a far more bloodthirsty fashion. Take the lyrics in 'Organ Farmer' for example: "Counting coins, counting stem cells / Wiretap turbidity / Human laboratory / Kill the squid, cut the tree / Arrogant human meat". Nice.

There is an almost concept album feel to what KGLW have achieved here, discussing similar themes to that of Arctic Monkey's Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino: the idea of depopulating earth in favour of something better, more beautiful and less tainted. However, with only the rich able to afford escape (hence the track 'Mars For The Rich'), what becomes of everyone else? "Mars for the privileged / Earth for the poor / Mars terraforming slowly / Earth has been deformed / Just forget it, ya ain't coming here / The ticket's too dear / I stare sadly into my beer / That world has no place for me."

With such brutal lyrics and subject matter, it seems like the perfect time for the band to make their first foray into metal - the latest in a long line of musical styles experimented with by King Gizz (as you'd expect from a band with fifteen albums).

Their work has seen them tackle whimsical 60s-inspired folk on Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, off-kilter rhythms and jazz-infused joy on Mild High Club collaboration Sketches of Brunswick East, then straight up psych rock wizardry on Flying Microtonal Banana - to mention just a few.

Fishing For Fishes itself was a genre-encompassing collection of tracks (folk, blues rock and even house at one point), and here the band have proven that there is nothing they can't do when it comes to guitar music. Surely they must be hailed as one of, if not THE best, psych rock band of the 21st century - and one of the most eminent musical trailblazing bands of all time, perhaps?

This latest direction has been a long time in the making, according to singer and guitarist Stu McKenzie: 

“In year four there was an older kid who was into Rammstein. I made friends with him and we put together a performance at our school assembly where we headbanged to ‘Du Hast.’ I got whiplash, which I thought was pretty cool.

That was my introduction to heavy metal, and soon Rammstein led to Metallica, Metallica led to Slayer, Slayer led to Kreator and Sodom. Later on, when I picked up a guitar I realised that shit was too hard to play, so I got into rock ‘n’ roll and garage. That was liberating.”

Infest The Rats Nest displays all the classic traits of the genre, employing their two drummers to deliver thundering double bass drum rhythms, while the band's guitarists churn out searing solos and scuzzy riffs, with typically horrifying vocals delivering messages of a genuinely serious, ecological nature (take 'Self Immolate', above, as another prime example).

Where The 1975 drafted in Greta Thunberg to spread the good word against climate change on 'The 1975' (of course it still had to be about them), King Gizzard offer a more alternative and gory perspective on the fight to save our planet, and set to a soundtrack of thrash metal, they don't half get their point across.

 

You can find King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard tickets below, with the band coming to Manchester's O2 Victoria Warehouse on Thursday 3rd October.

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