King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Infest the Rats’ Nest

Insatiable Aussie monolith King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard release the yang side of this year’s two-album offering with Infest the Rats’ Nest. It’s a hell-bent, interplanetary suicide mission – but we just call it Gizzard’s take on Metal.

Infest the Rats’ Nest follows the cautionary tract of a world where human intervention has led the planet into total annihilation. The first half of the album plays out the various elaborations of a few independent scenarios. This makes for some very intriguing material like “Mars for the Rich,” a searing depiction of income inequality crawling through the devastation and fleeing to the established safe haven that has become Mars. Only the top 1% can afford to live there, so the impoverished are left on Earth’s barren mantle to seemingly rot. Aside from the painfully obvious free associations to the modern world, “Mars for the Rich” actually kicks ass by unearthing the classic metal riff you haven’t heard yet. There’s plenty more of these instant classic ear worms, the most captivating being “Superbug,” a truly calculated homage to proto-metal from a willing pawn sacrifice. Oh, and it takes a staunch anti-vaccination stance.

Though they tend to release work at a rapid pace, Gizzard always takes a calculated and professional approach to every album. It’s safe to say that they’ve come fully prepared to slay the metal beast. These sharp, bodacious licks are showcased throughout the album, but perfected on “Venusian 1” and “Venusian 2.” The maniacal finger work is then propelled back into those classic Gizzard “warp speed” moments that were the apex of the more explosive past works.

These songs get their point across and with precision, the arrangements neatly equipped with an overall sense of efficiency and tightness that keeps you locked in. Every song ends with a strong abruptness. These tactical pull-outs leave you with your dick in your hand, but it’s with a sort of approving cuckoldry. Per usual, the mix is literally perfect. The thrash distortion gives a nice bite, yet it’s ultimately smooth on the ear. The bass has adopted a new metal tone that they’ve never used before and it really holds the integrity of the music.

The harsh wisdom of Infest the Rats’ Nest goes from consistent to full-fledged at the turn of the B-side. The formerly light narrative consumes you during the second half with a short storyline about a team of space explorers and their search for a sustainable environment within the solar system. One might posit it as half-baked to plop a legitimate story into the latter part of an otherwise loosely connected album. I think these guys have a lot of drive and wanted to make some solid metal material, but they also had a basis idea that they wanted to run with for all the songs. This opened up a deeper narrative that they didn’t know how far to take. Nonetheless, it’s not entirely a deterrent if you don’t read too much into it and allow yourself to go where the album takes you. Not to mention, all the songs are a genuinely good listen, making up for any possible confusion you might’ve faced. One must also keep in mind that this is the ominous side of an environmental-two-album-think-piece. It has (and should have) a lot more emotion than the happy-go-lucky Yin that was “Fishing for Fishies.” For this reason it makes sense that they delved into the subject matter a little more.

These last two releases are Gizzard at their most accessible. They release two environmentally conscious albums that cover polar sides of the musical spectrum. This is their creative way of busting out of any remaining borders that once surrounded them. They aim to reach an insanely large demographic by capitalizing on the current mass delirium through two totally different outputs. In actuality, I don’t think King Gizzard are as passionate on some of the policy they tackle as they would have us believe. We must take into account that band leader Stu Mackenzie is an intellectual, and his lyrics unravel a narrative that’s good enough to take the theme to new heights. The propulsions conveyed in the narrative suggest a radical core idea, but it’s the creativity itself that turned a mild idea into manifesto. Bottom line: This environmental-fear-mongering sex sells, and in King Gizzard’s case, it’s actually pretty damn good.