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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Infest The Rats' Nest CD (album) cover

INFEST THE RATS' NEST

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars Coming out of Melbourne, Australia, the catchily named KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD has proved itself as a prolific act that has been impossible to ignore as the band has weaseled its way onto prog sites, metal review columns and pops up just about everywhere these days with its unique blend of alternative psychedelic rock with pop hooks, metal leanings and garage rock sensibilities. The year 2017 proved to be the most ambitious of all with five albums released but in 2019 the GIZZARD dropped two more bombs onto the world and further expanded its genre bending tendencies once again.

INFEST THE RATS' NEST is the band's 15th album since its formation in 2010 and takes its sound boldly into the world of thrash metal, a place only scantly hinted upon on the predominantly psychedelic prog that has graced the previous albums. With a seemingly infinite amount of inspirational mojo, the GIZZARD eschews the psychedelic indie rock sounds of the past and instead turns to classic Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and Overkill for inspiration and instantly finds the band appearing in heavy metal databases worldwide to the chagrin of metal purists who just can't accept these crossover acts as legit metal entities but nonetheless, INFEST THE RATS' NEST is a bona fide thrash metal album albeit with stoner garage rock tendencies chock full of guitar riffing heft and double kick drumming.

While death metal and black metal have spiraled off into a million directions and into highly evolved complexities, thrash metal has remained rather pure in comparison and the GIZZARD deliver a tasty little interpretation of the classic thrash metal years that date back to the 80s and early 90s although INFEST also finds traces of industrial metal heft a la Rammstein or White Zombie and alternative mood swings into Tool territory at moments. This new metal sound originated on the single "Planet B," the opening powerhouse that was a stand alone track but somehow inspired the band into crafting an entire album of similar sounding tunes. The biggest surprise is that this album has become one of the band's most successful of all and has virtually guaranteed another strong decade to come.

Musically, INFEST THE RATS' NEST is very much a retro tribute to the great thrash bands of yore. The sound delivered here is a mix of Overkill stomp grooves, Metallica induced palm muting techniques for that classic galloping sound along with guitar solos that erupt out of nowhere but there is a veritable garage rock quality to this as none of these guys are exactly virtuosos so don't expect a Marty Friedman ripping solo quality or even the more sophisticated classically infused Metallica riffs. This is basic thrash by the numbers albeit exquisitely performed and catchy to the max. All in all this will appeal to those on the fringe of the metal universe rather than those already deeply indoctrinated into the long rich history of thrash metal that has remained strong for over three decades now.

While many bands want to be all things to all music appreciators, KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD succeeded to a certain degree while it took a big chance with INFEST THE RATS' NEST in the fact that there was a lot of risk of alienating fans of the psychedelic rock albums. However i would venture to guess that one should have no fear that the band has gone Opeth in reverse by dropping its psych qualities in favor of the more bombastic metal style presented on this album. After all, on tracks like "Mars For The Rich" there are still psychedelic keyboard elements that creep into the flow of things and the overtly alternative feel prevents this from feeling "too" thrashy. There's even a harmonica that makes a cameo on several tracks and the bluesy rock roots of the 70s are still strong, just simply cranked up to 11 at various moments. This is a decent album for sure but honestly this isn't anything to get wildly excited about either. With all the references to thrash greats like Overkill and Metallica, i'd rather listen to their output any day, however good on the GIZZARD for breaking out of their comfort zone.

3.5 rounded down

Report this review (#2304061)
Posted Friday, January 3, 2020 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really didn't expect to like this album and was a bit nervous for the band after the somewhat disappointing Fishing for Fishies. I had heard the singles and was not into it at all. I decided to purchase the album and upon first playback, I actually really enjoyed it. With each subsequent listen that enjoyment only increased. The great thing about this album is that despite being a dramatic departure from everything else they've done, it still sounds like a King Gizzard record. If I have to be critical, I can say sometimes the songs can sound a bit similar to each other. With that said, its an entertaining record front to back.

With this album King Gizzard takes some of the unique aspects of their sound seen on previous albums, and put a layer of thrash metal on top of it. Along with this, some songs explore the stoner/doom metal genre. Infest the Rats Nest succeeds in actually being heavy and not just being loud like a lot of modern metal falls victim to. Also on this album, the band introduces the double kick and the vocals are much more harsh sounding. Just based on listening, its clear this is a somewhat loose concept album. What I can gather is that the earth has become somewhat uninhabitable due to pollution and climate change and the rich and wealthy are retreating to an apparently now terraformed mars while the poor are doomed to die on earth. Eventually the poor folks decide to try going to Venus and upon arrival, they instantly engulf into flames on the surface of the planet.

Planet B starts things off right out the gate with an intensity that is kept up throughout the album. The lyrics on this album and song particularly really draw me in and tell a fun story that really keeps my interest throughout. The second track Mars For The Rich is my favorite by a slim margin and is damn near impossible not so sing along to. Towards the end of the song there is a really sweet bass and drum breakdown section that leads to the main riff kicking back in and it really hits well. Organ Farmer follows and its another faster paced intense song that unfortunately doesn't leave much of a lasting impression on me. I had to re listen to it for this review, and while i'ts definitely a lot of fun, it's not quite as memorable as most of the other songs.

Superbug is another standout track and is one of the more stoner/doom style tracks pulling some aspects of Sabbath and Sleep with its slower pace and sludgy guitars. The thing I love about this track is how it builds up and progressively gets heavier over its duration until the end where its basically just a wall of sound. Venusian 1 has a really cool doomy feel to it. You can hear the signature gizz guitar tones all over the solos of this track but by far my favorite part is the end where it has the line:

"THERE IS ONE PLANET V"

And thus the next chapter of the story starts. Perihelion is another incredible track that's probably on par with Mars for the Rich to me. The main riff is my favorite of the whole album and the chorus is another that I just cant help but head bang to. Venusian 2 is the heaviest track on the album and it really gives the feel of chaos needed for the story. It leads into Self Immolate which is another thrash track similar to Planet B and Organ Farmer and is supposed to be the moment in the story where they land and burn up on the surface of Venus. This is another track where I can say that it doesn't do anything we haven't already heard in past tracks on the album. Like Organ Farmer it is a lot of fun and you can find me singing along to the line "I have gone insan-o, I lust for volcano." But when I think of this album, its not gonna be one of the first tracks to come to mind. However, on the closing song Hell, the band manages to reach the peak of the album in the final minute. The first few minutes are more chaotic thrash similar to Venusian 2, but in the final minute the band pulls out a NASTY riff that fades in until the whole band joins creating the heaviest (and damn coolest) moment on the album.

This album is really awesome and definitely among my favorite Gizz albums. It's a nice fun listen at its short 35 minute run time and one that I frequently revisit.

4 Stars

Report this review (#2304614)
Posted Sunday, January 5, 2020 | Review Permalink
Kempokid
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars In an unexpected, and honestly extremely cool change of pace, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard decided to almost entirely eschew the psychedelic roots of their core sound for Infest The Rats Nest, replacing it with the sound of pure thrash and stoner metal. This was especially promising given how consistently exciting the band's heavier albums were, the teaser single of Planet B solidifying such hype. After listening to this album a number of times, I can safely say the the excitement I had for this was founded, as this album is consistently engaging in its breakneck intensity and apocalyptic atmosphere, with each track feeling sufficiently different as to not making it a slog to get through, despite clearly taking extensive inspiration from classic thrash like Metallica.

As previously mentioned, Planet B definitely sets up the album incredibly well with fast paced drumming and classic, chugging riffs which really establish this aggression that's trying to be achieved, the intro leading into similarly unexpectedly deep vocals reminiscient of the vocals of Sleep. The rest of the song continues quite strongly in a similar fashion, not really doing anything new or crazy, but continuing amazingly as a powerful, aggressive thrash metal track that sets the stage perfectly. Mars For The Rich shakes things up with a more bluesy, hard rock kind of track, which reminds me of Black Sabbath's Hole In The Sky without sounding like a copy of it. The song has a cool, driving bassline and some really cool lyricism to go along with it all, coming together to make for one of the album's most memorable songs. Organ Farmer unfortunately represents the worst elements of thrash for me, focusing primarily on stuffing as many solos into a short track, with everything feeling very stilted, overall a very mediocre song.

I feel the album really kicks it into high gear from this point onwards with Superbug however, channeling the sound of stoner metal and creating an incredibly powerful 7 minutes, and definitely the heaviest moment on the album. What I find especially impressive about this is how it manages to maintain a slow, crushing pace throughout, becoming especially intense during each absolutely immense repetition of the chorus. While the Venusian songs are both good, it's the remaining 3 songs that really stand out. Perihelion brings further freshness to everything with its more grandiose presentation, culminating in a reprieve from the heavier nature of the album through the one moment of the vocals being higher pitched and more melodic, without completely sacrificing the identity of the album, making for a breath of fresh air, providing for a more engaging experience. Self Immolate is tied with Superbug as my favourite cut off this album, for embodying the cmoplete opposite of what Superbug did, being the most insane track here, seemingly never slowing in pace, the chorus merely making everything sound that much more wild. I think that it's always a great sign when a song can make me compulsively headbang along to it and sound so intense at the same time. Hell is the track that everyone seems to remember for one thing, and that's its final minute, not that I can dispute that, as it is definitely one of the absolute greatest moments on the album, having such insanely cool riffing that builds up in such a satisfying way to make for an equally as satisfying conclusion.

While not really much more than a classic thrash album in amny respects, I feel that the additional styles put on here, such as some hard rock and stoner metal elements provides this album for some great variety to break up the monotony that can be caused by too much of a singular heavy sound. I find this to be one of my absolute favourite albums from the band for being able to make such a faithful recreation of classic thrash without sounding like a carbon copy of it, not to mention actually being exciting all the way through like only the best of the best are able to do for me when it comes to this genre. While not the first place I'd point someone to when trying to get into this band, since it's so different to the rest of their material, it's nonetheless an album that I think is amazing in what it does, and would be getting a 5 stars if not for the fact that in a prog setting, this isn't what I'd consider an essential album.

Best tracks: Mars for the Rich, Superbug, Perihelion, Self Immolate

Weakest tracks: Organ Farmer, Venusian 2

Verdict: While not representative of King Gizzard in any major form, this is nonetheless one of my favourite albums in their discography for its consistency yet cohesive variety at the same time, making the album one that I find engaging from start to finish. It's something I strongly recommend to those who are fans of thrash metal, as I think you'll definitely get a kick out of this.

Report this review (#2304642)
Posted Monday, January 6, 2020 | Review Permalink

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