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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - L​.​W. CD (album) cover


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Psychedelic/Space Rock

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4 stars L.W. follows up last years release of K.G. which continued the bands exploration into the middle eastern shaded psychedelic rock they started on Flying Microtonal Banana, which happens to be my favorite album by the band. I really enjoyed K.G. last year, to me it felt like maybe their most collaborative sounding album to date bringing a little bit of all their past styles together under the umbrella of microtonal instrumentation. I rated it 4 stars back then and i'd say I still hold it right around that 3.5-4 star range. To me it was a very solid record with a lot of good groove, but for some reason it just didn't have the same shelf life as some of their other records did for me. Now we have L.W. which seems to be the conclusion to this style, these two albums really go hand in hand with the closing track off K.G. flowing right into the opening track here with "If Not Now, Then When?"

Now it's important to mention K.G. came under fire from some fans and critics of the band for sounding like the band was treading water and repeating themselves. Personally though, I just thought musically start to finish the album was really solid and at the end of the day, I had a lot of fun with it. I don't think such complaints are unfounded, as when I listen to a song like Some of Us or Straws in the Wind, it sounds comfortably King Gizzard to me, but this certainly wasn't something I felt across the whole record. Personally I always judge an album on its own merits, if I like the songs, than we're chillin! Now the reason I bring all of this up is because this record is coming under even more fire from some camps for apparently being a worse offender than the last one and i'm seeing a lot of people completely write it off for this reason. However... I don't know.... I just think this album is pretty... awesome honestly! After several listens I absolutely prefer this one to K.G. and I think this delivers on the same level as many of the high points of K.G. but on a very consistent basis between its 9 songs. The tracks all jive really well together for me and it makes a really groovy, fun and relatively easy listen. This record falls heavily into their psychedelic rock camp, while still carrying some of the odd times and unconventional riffage they've picked up over time. I love the production value here and all the super psychedelic ear candy sounds scattered throughout the songs. Listening through, I just feel like I've delved into a big dusty cloud of psychedelia and I love it.

Getting into the songs now, opening up is the aforementioned "If Not Now, Then When?" It opens with somewhat of an abrasive transition from The Hungry Wolf of Fate, K.G.'s closer. But it all fizzles out as this real crunchy clavinet comes in. When the rhythm section fires off it's a super groovy and satisfying payoff that I just have to move to while listening. Lot's of great melodies throughout, just a super solid opener and a pretty unique one for the band at that. Following that is O.N.E which reminds me of Automation off the last album because I feel they both serve a similar purpose, and that being getting the ball rolling and getting some momentum kicked off for the next suite of songs. This one opens with a bit of a hypnotic and floaty start, before kicking into that very driving rhythm section. Lot's of stuff to grab onto within this song with a cool little guitar breakdown in the middle. "Pleura," follows this up and this has a real headbanging riff to it, you kinda have to headbang in a weird rhythmic pattern though but it works. This ones got a pretty frantic feel to it, towards the middle it settles down a little into a slightly toned down sounding spin on the verse before calming completely down right before we hear a good ol' "woooOOOO" bringing us right back into that main riff coming through at full power. Awesome, high energy song. Supreme Ascendancy is where the album actually steps thing up a little bit for me, and I really feel it keeps the bar at this high level for the remainder of its runtime. It's got this super upbeat psychedelic Anatolian rock instrumentation opening things up, i'm actually having a little trouble describing it but for what that's worth, I think that's the mark of something pretty cool! Just a great vibe to this one, the instrumentals here are some of their most textured if you ask me with some nice organ coming through to accompany the main hook. The following track Static Electricity is easily one of the best songs, arguably the best for my money. It opens with this super menacing guitar riff backed by a real brooding electronic soundscape. The vocals got this ghosty tone to it while in the rhythm department I really feel the now singular drummer has really stepped things up and distinguished himself as a very key member of the band now that the two drummer dynamic is no more. Everything about this song just touches all the bases for me, I love the super earthy sounding passage at the 3:00 mark, the song reaches a sweet crescendo and playout towards the end, great stuff.

East West Link follows that awesome track up and keeps the album moving carrying a similar drive to Static Electricity. We see more nice subtle rhythmic choices with some bongos? Hell yeah! There's a really cool instrumental section around the halfway mark. On it's own, this is a song I have a little less to say about, but it fits like a glove in the context of a full album listen. The following track "Ataraxia," is another highlight and contender for the best song. The riffage in this song is tied for the best on the album for me, more on that later! When the full band comes in the main riff is just absolutely filthy and once again, I think a lot of credit for this can be placed on the drumming. When it suddenly moves right into the verse like a light switch, it's just so satisfying, pardon me for sounding like a broken record here but once again, the stars of the show here are the drums and bass seamlessly playing around the riffs and vocal melodies. I just cant rave about this track enough, a real mastery of rises and falls, build ups and payoffs. Now in the final stretch, "See Me" comes through next taking you through a dusty maze of music. It has a pretty bouncy feel to it with more of those uhhh... hard to describe psychedelic chiming instrumentals taking the lead. I'll group this one with East West Link as being less of a track you'll just throw on out of context, but in a full album listen, this is a nice bridge between two of the goliath songs. That brings me into the closing track, the familiarly titled "K.G.L.W" which ties these two albums all together. This song, clocking in at over 8 minutes King Gizzard pulls through with in my opinion, one of their best songs ever. Combing elements of Prog Metal, Doom/Stoner Metal and Pysch Rock, it's like a fever dream for me. I'd have to argue it's much more successful and original on all fronts than K.G.'s closer "The Hungry Wolf of Fate." The riffs are so crunchy throughout and these eight minutes and change just melt away as King Gizzard takes you on a hellish tour through evil L.W. land or.... something? One thing I really like about this song is that there's very little downtime and they come at you basically right out the gate with an aggression. At 2:07 it drops into this awesome rhythmic riff and I think the fact that it comes out of a stretch of 7/4 into this 4/4 section makes it a very enjoyable and hard hitting transition. Some of the more doomy elements follow with larger than life walls of muddy distortion followed by some sweet slow and fiery riffage. The band has proved to be more than competent at this style, and I'd love to see them embrace it more on a full album basis, even the fact that you could classify parts of this song as Progressive Metal makes me very excited. The prospect of King Gizzard tackling that style.... oh man.

So yeah, I just really love this record and I really can't really get behind some of the flak getting thrown its way. There's been times in the past where I feel like the band has missed the mark or undelivered a little bit, but that's just not the case for this album. Every song hits the mark, I have a ton of fun listening to this record on repeat and I think it stands sturdy and comfortably against some of their other really good albums! Thanks for reading, giving this one 4.5 stars. Am I going against the grain here? If so, that's okay, this bands got something for everyone in my opinion and I'm just happy that they're one of the premier modern rock bands and I get to be a fan during their reign! Cheers!

A solid 4 stars!

Report this review (#2509912)
Posted Monday, March 1, 2021 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars While I praised KG for taking a pre-established sound that King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard went down previously and polishing and maturing it considerably to create something that sounded quite distinct and impressive for the band, I personally think that the same cannot be said about its companion piece, LW. While I completely expected this album to be essentially a 2nd part of the band's previous album to the point of cleanly transitioning from the closer of it into this one's opening track, I'm honestly still surprised about how little this one manages to stand up on its own or really at all in a significant way. The band undoubtedly attempted to bring some more eclectic sensibilities into the fray here, with a lot more songs that felt stylistically distinct in some rather dramatic ways (all of course within the context of their own sound), but at the same time, it ends up lacking some cohesion as a result. Furthermore, when it's not all over the place, it often ends up feeling quite flat, with the less out there songs lacking any compositional appeal or charm and just being flat boredom that further reinforces the album's lack of cohesion. Its inability to stand on its own without coming off KG is another issue it has and ends up making this lack a true sense of identity and instead makes it feel like a bit of an insignificant footnote to its far superior counterpart. Even with all of these flaws however, I'd personally consider it difficult to call this album outright bad either, as it has its moments of charm and a couple of incredible songs buried within the mess that it is.

One of the biggest issues that LW has is how it jumps around a fair bit and almost feels as if it's just reaching out and grabbing assorted pieces and trying its best to make them fit together even if the result isn't too clean. The song that represents this possibly the most is the opener, If Not Now, Then When? which has a chaotic, loud and messy intro that sprawls out of control for about a minute before things get reeled in and then completely changes everything about itself. The way that this goes from this heavy moment that feels incredibly messy into something rather soft, with a jazzy, funky melody played on a really quaint sounding keyboard with these soft, high pitched vocals doesn't really do anything other than feel rather annoying in the lack of major thread between the two sections. This is exacerbated by the way that this is meant to be the opener to this, further representing the fact that it feels as if the album simply wasn't meant to be listened to in isolation, which really begs the question about why the band didn't just hold off on releasing something until they were able to just make the double album KGLW. O.N.E represents the other issue the album has where the songs have a tendency to not really do too much that's in any way interesting, for the most part almost feeling like a B side but with a couple of great moments. I'll say that at the very least I appreciate the way that this song has that moment near the end where a really simple but nice guitar solo comes in to break up the monotony, which is quickly followed up with a really dense part that almost sounds as if there's a crowd idly chatting around the band as they play, really unique feel that maybe could have been cool as a full song concept rather than yet another "normal song but strange guitar tone" one.

Despite all my complaints with this however, there's still some greatness buried within that makes that album worth a listen. Pleura is the first of these, with its main appeal to me being the unusual vocals, with some lower, more intensely performed ones being contrasted by some very soft and pretty melodies being layered underneath it, creating a rather unique effect that plays well into the heaviness of the song as a whole. The bridge taking on a far lighter approach further fleshes out the song in an even more satisfying way and I wish that the album would have attempted to revolve around more of these sorts of dynamics because this track proves that it could be something really, really awesome. Supreme Ascendency is yet another great song, with a far more grandiose vibe than is typically expected from the Ambrose led track on a King Gizz album. The production feels rather strange here as well, but in a good way, with the instrumentation feeling as if it's getting given centre stage at practically all times, the vocals instead being pushed back enough to more elevate the soundscapes being evoked rather than the other way around, all in all creating something I'm a big fan of yet again. The final song that I feel is worth special mention is that closing track, which is without a doubt my favourite of the doom metal songs the band's written up to this point. Not only do I like the way it ties back into the intro of KG, but I also love how it once again doesn't just rely on being heavy, and really leans into those mysterious, almost occult sounds and imagery to give it so much more depth. The riffs also rock, the middle section where it's just hard hitting instrumental part after hard hitting instrumental part is phenomenal, the way that it manages to bring an incredible sense of finality to things, it's all just an amazing time and almost makes it worth listening to this album for that track alone.

Overall, while there are a few great songs on LW, I can't help but feel that there was really not too much reason for it to have existed in the form it took. With a bit of moving things around I feel like that this and KG had enough material to make a really solid album that was still considerably longer than anything else the band had released, without putting out a double album in 2 pieces with one of them just not working too well at all in isolation and is also got a ton of filler. The more I listen to this the more I just wish that King Gizz just approached things in this other way because even when listening to both albums back to back, this one just carries on too long with the filler present within, and resulted in what has some of the band's greatest material being buried by a hodgepodge of ideas that didn't all fit together as cleanly as the band probably would have liked. Is this worth listening to? yeah, at least once, it's not bad, but is there a reason to exist and does it actually add all that much to things overall? no not really beyond a couple of fantastic highlights. I also feel like this one kinda hurt the band's reputation for some because of the fact that it's another microtonal album which has gotten some people complaining about them getting lazy or something, which I just highly disagree with considering this was clearly the plan from the start, to revisit a previous sound in a more longform way before continuing to expand outwards, it's just a detour in whatever the band feels like doing at that moment. Despite being disappointed with LW and thinking it retroactively makes KG a less rewarding listening experience, I still look forward to seeing what KGATLW are able to do next, because I have faith that even if they'll continue making really fun and interesting music in the future even if there's the potential of them releasing some fairly underwhelming stuff in between.

Best tracks: Pleura, Supreme Ascendancy, K.G.L.W.

Weakest tracks: If Not Now, Then When?, East West Link, See Me

Report this review (#2592074)
Posted Saturday, September 4, 2021 | Review Permalink


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