KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD — Infest the Rats' Nest (review)

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD — Infest the Rats' Nest album cover Album · 2019 · Thrash Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
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.
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Tupan wrote:
3 days ago
Yes, this! Agree with everything: thrash by the numbers, but still catchy and honest!
21 days ago
something about this album just sounds too cheesy to me (and not in an "80's Death Angel" good way)

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