King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – ‘Infest The Rats’ Nest’ review

The Gizz go full-blown metal with an environmental message. At times it sounds like ‘Master Of Puppets’-era Metallica playing at a climate change convention

Across the course of nine years and 14 albums, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have switched up their sound more often than most people change their pants. This time round, the prolific Aussies have gone and made a full-on metal record, worshipping openly at the altar of ’70s giants Sabbath, Zeppelin and Motörhead, and ’80s Bay Area thrash bands Exodus, Slayer and Metallica.

The Gizz are usually a seven-headed beast but, with various members focusing on other musical projects, though this album was made by just vocalist Stuart Mackenzie, guitarist Joey Walker and drummer Michael Cavanagh. Thankfully, that hasn’t stopped them kicking up a right racket. Whereas its predecessor ‘Fishing For Fishies’ felt at times too straightforward for a band with such cerebral tendencies, the best bits of ‘Infest The Rats’ Nest’ are squalling, chaotic and a lot more fun.

The apocalyptic message running through this album is nothing new: we’re used to hearing that humans have fucked the environment on a daily basis. But that doesn’t stop nihilistic opener ‘Planet B’, which sounds like ‘Master Of Puppets’-era Metallica playing at a climate change convention, from being thoroughly enjoyable. Similarly, ‘Perihelion’ talks of “melting humans’, and the gruesomely named ‘Organ Farmer’ highlight the horrors of intensive farming and “fields of beef” over batshit guitars played at demented speeds. “BLOOD MINESTRONE,” roars Mackenzie in a manner that will get you off the Big Macs pronto. “BRING IN THE CARCASS!”

Unfortunately, incessant genre-hopping can make even great bands seem directionless and, as the album reaches its mid-section, the material does start to wear thin. With a running time of just over 30 minutes, there are only nine tracks here, and not all of them are particularly memorable. ‘Superbug’ is a swampy slog and as ‘Venusian 1′ and ‘Venusian 2’ explode in a flurry of rampant notes but not much else of consequence, it sounds like the trio are running out of ideas.

Things do pick up with messy, closing tracks ‘Self-Immolate’ and ‘Hell’, but these are proficient rather than remarkable moments. Ultimately, it’s not enough to prevent ‘Infest The Rats’ Nest’ from feeling like a case of “look what we can do!” rather than a record fully realised.