BY JONATHAN CORTEZ
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are an Australian psychedelic progressive rock band . Since their 2011 debut EP “Willoughby’s Beach,” the band has shown wild ambition in the fact they have released at least one album yearly since their debut, even releasing five albums in 2017 alone.Being formed only 8 years ago, the band has covered more genres than most bands do in 30 years. From their entirely acoustic “Paper Mache Dream Balloon” or their blues dance record “Fishing for Fishies,” King Gizzard has shown they aren’t afraid of tackling any and all genres.
On King Gizzard’s 15th studio album “Infest the Rats Nest,” the band goes full force into traditional heavy metal and thrash metal, which they only briefly touch on past records. Throttling guitar riffs, killer double bass kick drums and grooving bass lines all ecompass Infest the Rats Nest. Everything on this album is a throwback to both the classic 80’s thrash metal bands like Slayer, Megadeth and Destruction and those who were playing along with classic Black Sabbath bluesy metal. Accompanying the thrash metal sounds on this record, King Gizzard tells a tale of environmental awareness. Lyrics depicting Earth as a wasteland now being ravaged by an unstoppable disease, and the rich finding refuge in space, King Gizzard tells a story that in today’s age is more relevant than ever.
The record starts off with the song Planet B. Pummeling drums kick the song off and speedy sharp guitars shred throughout the song non-stop. Jus, the vocalist, growls lyrics about earth being destroyed with disease and urbanization, telling the citizens to look at whats happening because “There is no Planet B”. A perfect track to set the mood and attitude for the record, we go on to the second track Mars for the Rich. Starting with a slower bluesy guitar riff that screams Master of Reality era Black Sabbath, and drums that give the guitar and bass a great foundation to groove over. Jus’s lyrics are about how the rich have left Earth to settle on Mars and how the poor have been left to fend for themselves. A nice change of pace, but still keeping the heavy metal sound established on Planet B
The song Organ Farmer is sonically similar to that of Planet B, but is even more wild in the sharp technical guitar riffs, reaching points in which they sound like a wacky combination of Judas Priest and Slayer. The song depicts the poor selling organs to survive but due to lack of clean procedures, a superbug disease mutates and spreads. Following this, we get the track “Superbug”. Single-handedly putting down every modern sludge metal band, the slow sludgy riffs grind throughout the song while Jus howls about how the rising superbug is unstoppable and no amount of prescription drugs will save the human race. The album branches into a different story about how some refugees are seeking to go to space and attempting to resettle on Venus.
Venusian 1 screams Megadeath along with some nice “Kill ‘Em All” era Metallica. Jus talks on how humanity is confident that their ship Venusian 1 will save them and they’ll find somewhere to settle. A killer bass lines grooves through the entire track making it almost danceable. Perihelion has more of a southern groove metal edge with quite possibly the catchiest hook ever written in a thrash metal album. Humanity is gaining extreme amounts of hope and the track has a grand sense of the excitement for new exploration. Yet towards the end, the lyrics suggest the ships are heading straight into the sun and ultimately, Venusian 1 and its passengers go with it. Venusian 2 starts with an extremely brutal drum lick and tremolo guitar riffs. Jus’ howl gets sinister as he shouts about how a second group of refuges make a second Venusian ship called Venusian 2. This time they manage to enter Venus’s atmosphere, but the ship tears apart and the passengers are forced to jump straight down to the surface.
This leads into the last 2 songs of the record, “Self Immolate” and “Hell”. On Self Immolate the track starts with an amazing drum solo and guitars that shred at such high pitched tunes, they almost sound edited. Lyrically, the track depicts the people on Venus going insane and wanting to be set on fire, ending themselves. The ending track goes in the same thrash vein the album has been going so far, and is structurally the most complex with multiple time signature changes, bridges and prechorus. Our story ends on a rather darker, but bleak note. The settlers of Venus have all gone insane but discovered a city not made by anyone. That city is Hell itself and in it they find Satan guiding them to a portal which leads back to the rich on Mars where they enact their revenge on the rich for not aiding anyone on earth.
Overall, “Infest the Rats Nest” sees King Gizzard in a brutal, but fun direction while managing to make an album which lyrically, is genuinely relevant in today’s age of raising environmental awareness. “Infest the Rats Nest” tells a story of wild proportions but this story isn’t all that far fetched, as Mars One is a program to settle the first human colony. One can only ask when will the time come for Mars to be a genuine planet to live on? When will our little blue planet to become a disgusting wasteland? And if Mars were to become a genuinely hospitable planet would the rich leave us to rot? King Gizzard says yes to all of this on “Infest the Rats Nest”.