King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
Infest the Rat’s Nest
Fightless/ATO

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard might one of the most prolific bands in the world.  Infest the Rats’ Nest is their 15th album, to go with two extended plays, since they formed in 2010.  Rat’s Nest is also their second album of 2019.  Fishing for Fishies was released at the end of April.  Even before that one was out, the band teased with a new single, ‘Planet B,’ which did not appear on that album.  This led to fan speculation a second album was in the works.  The band confirmed this on Reddit a few days after Fishies‘ release, though they weren’t sure if this would be another 2019 release.

Fast-forward to mid-August, and Rat’s Nest was released on the 16th.  It is a totally different bag from Fishies.  One of the things that makes King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard so appealing is the band’s ability to style jump.  They have released music that covers nearly every rock genre from garage, psychadaelia, metal, and everything in between.  Fishies was a playful, Beatlesque affair, the songs occasionally beautiful.

Infest the Rat’s Nest is most certainly not that.  It is hard-hitting metal.  It is a concept album.  ‘Planet B’ opens the album, with frontman Stu Mackenzie screaming that ‘There is no Planet B’ in the midst of his lyrics describing the apocalypse.  And off to the races we go, as the band imagine the environmental degradation of the Earth, from a distinct Australian perspective, through the idea of colonization of Mars and Venus (‘Mars for the Rich’ ‘Venusian 1’ and ‘Venusian 2’) to public health nightmares (‘Organ Farmer’ and ‘Superbug’) and a fiery death (‘Self-Immolate’ and ‘Hell’).  Uplifting this is not.

But that’s just the lyrics.  Inspired by the greats of thrash metal, from Metallica and Slayer, the guitars chug along.  But there is also a strong Sabbathian influence here.  Particularly on ‘Mars for the Rich,’ the interplay of the guitars and bass, including the effects, and Mackenzie’s voice sounds more like Sabbath, or even Cancer Bats’ alter ego, Bat Sabbath, than anything in the trash metal world.

Infest the Rat’s Nest was recorded largely with a small core of the band’s seven-member set.  Here, we have Mackenzie on vocals and guitars, Joey Walker on bass and guitars, and Michael Cavanaugh on drums.  All of the songs, except for ‘Planet B’ were written by the trio; ‘Planet B’ was written by Mackenzie alone.  Other members of the band make what are more or less guest appearances.  Ambrose Kenny-Smith who usually shares vocals with Mackenzie here lends his voice and harmonica to most of the album.  Guitarist Cook Craig supplies his talents on the axe to about half of the tracks and does some backing vocals.  Second drummer/percussionist Eric Moore appears on backing vocals on two tracks.  Bassist Lucas Skinner doesn’t appear at all (usually Walker plays guitar in the band).

No matter though.  Infest the Rat’s Nest is some wickedly good shit.  King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are also touring North America right now.  They’re in New Haven, CT, tonight, New York tomorrow, Philadelphia on Friday.  They played Montréal last night.