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KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Infest the Rats’ Nest gets 6/10


King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Infest the Rats’ Nest
Flightless Records

6/10

Perennial psychedelic pranksters King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard continue their ride on the genre merry-go-round, taking a stab at metal on the raucous Infest The Rats’ Nest.

The results are mixed. Album opener Planet B is a highlight, if only because it comes first and lays this album’s agenda clear. This is early thrash metal; chugging palm-muted riffs, relentless double kick drums and fast-but-raw solos. The band has the requisite chops to carry this off, and the production is on point, with crusty guitar tones placing this album squarely in 1983. The solos are delightfully raw blasts of single-string guitar bends, as is the King Gizzard tradition. There’s no neo-classical guitar shredding on here, with the emphasis on fun rather than technicality. Think Kill ‘Em All era Metallica or early Anthrax.

The issue arises when you think of what a lot of classic thrash bands did after. Bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Testament stretched out into longer and more ambitious song forms. King Gizzard don’t go there, having already tackled progressive rock on 2017’s stupendous Polygondwanaland. Unfortunately, early thrash is stylistically limited, with the high tempos and rigid adherence to the aforementioned genre tropes meaning that whatever band plays this stuff will be boxed in.

It’s fun to hear Gizzard play this stuff, but they don’t put as emphatic a stylistic stamp on the music as they have on previous efforts, like the recent boogie-rock styled Fishing for Fishies. There’s only so many blast-beats, palm-muted riffs and shouts you can hear before you start forgetting this is even King Gizzard in the first place. Venusian 1 and Venusian 2 aren’t particularly inspired tracks for instance, adding a more overt metallic chug to what are otherwise standard whooping Gizzard stompers. Self-Immolate and the Slayer-esque Hell are decent but unexceptional thrashers. They come at the tail-end of the album, by which point we’ve reached metal fatigue.

The band also squanders their opportunity at a long-form thrasher in Superbug, which doesn’t have enough catchy riffs or melodies to justify its running length. The slower Perihelion fares better, with its anthemic chorus and knotty rhythm guitars serving to break up the album’s flow. The album high point is Mars for the Rich, a slower paced and emphatic half-thrash, half-grunge number. It’s got an insanely catchy chorus, and makes you wish they’d incorporated more metal subgenres to mix things up.

This isn’t a bad album by any means, with the Gizz showing themselves to be capable thrashers and absolutely nailing the production sound of the period. This material will doubtlessly kick off live, but as a standalone piece of music it’s not their most compelling.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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