On Aug. 16, Australian psychedelic rock released their fifteenth studio album, titled “Infest the Rat’s Nest.” The album is a deep exploration into heavy and thrash metal for the group, which touched on the genres very briefly in only a few of their previous albums. Unlike previous records by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, compositions for the 9-track record feature only three of the seven-musician band.
Side A explores life in the near future, following a climate change-induced ecological disaster which has split humanity between Mars and Earth. The anger present in this album is felt immediately when opening track “Planet B” opens the record with a distorted baritone gallop. Gone are frontman Stu Mackenzie’s standard fuzzed-out vocals, in is a low, growly timbre reminiscent of Metallica’s James Hetfield. The song “Mars for the Rich” provides a scathing class analysis of this future Earth, where the rich have escaped to “live large” on planet Mars while the poor are left behind to suffer the effects of climate change.
Side B follows a group of Earth rebels who are forced off Earth and start again on Venus. “Venusian 1” describes the pains of living on the sulfur planet, where the rebels must live inside a blimp to avoid the toxic atmosphere and flaming surface temperatures. The song “Self-Immolate” emphasizes the lonely, claustrophobic, and unnatural worlds that these humans now live in. With nothing to live for, and no desire to continue their futile existence, the settlers descend to the Venusian surface for their self-destruction.
“Infest the Rat’s Nest” is a stark contrast to King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard’s other 2019 release, “Fishing for Fishies,” which took a much more bluesy and light-hearted feel. One disappointment however, is that this album featured few time signature changes. The album seems to be locked in 4/4, with a brief change to 3/4 on one track, and an interchange between 4/4 and 7/4 on another track. Despite the departure from the group’s usual artistic approach, they maintained important elements of their garage and psychedelic rock foundations, with gang vocals and screams, and a very tasteful implementation of feedback. The album demonstrated masterful control of tempo, with sudden changes in dynamics at key points on both sides. For readers who enjoy thrash metal, or for those who are just looking for something to headbang to, “Infest the Rat’s Nest” will not disappoint!