Prolific Melbourne, Australia outfit King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard are at it again with yet another new album, their second of 2019. To identify their latest, Infest the Rats’ Nest, as a concept album is nothing new and yet their sound is indeed something new for their rabid fanbase. This time the crew from down under take a harder more “metal” approach to their sound and yet remain true to form with an album about a specific topic. With Rats’ Nest Stu Mackenzie and company examine the current perils facing the inhabitants of the third rock from the Sun and our point of no return regarding climate change, drug resistant viruses, biomedical interventions, and the dire impending doom we face as a species. There is no more poignant approach to addressing this doomsday prophecy than with heavy guitar driven metal.
A comparatively efficient 9 song 35 minutes of white knuckle guitar and drum driven thrash metal, the Aussie collective condense their prophetic message of complete annihilation of the human race on Earth with distilled and frightening acuity. Infest the Rats’ Nest opens with a pummeling drum beat echoed by an ensuing guitar onslaught which comprises the opening thirty seconds of the opening track “Planet B”. Vocals reminiscent of iconic late 80’s and early 90’s metal, pierce the heavily staccatoed instrumentation with the opening lines of:
Open your eyes and light the fluid, Get into a petrol siphon, Low on meals, browning fields, Bury children, Urbanization, Scarification, Population exodus, There is no Planet B, Open your eyes and see.
The recurring chorus of “There is no Planet B” could not be more clear, we have no fall back plan for the destruction we reap here on Earth, Mars is not an option. Never mind a plan b there is “no Planet B”!
From interplanetary exploration to our current human condition to pandemic outbreaks of future super bugs that are sure to wipe out civilization as we know it King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard warn us of an impending chaotic and uncertain future on this giant spinning marble. The immediacy of action is undebatable, we must act. However, in our current condition we may only slay the beasts of our nightmares with the hope that our future will be safe from an apocalyptic world overrun by flesh hungry rats. If you’re more of a visual person than an auditory person then check out the band’s amazing 90’s era Doom-esque first person shooter game at Mars for the Rich named after the second track on the album. If up until now things were not graphic enough for you “Organ Farmer” would not disappoint. While not entirely dark, in theory, King Gizzard take the thought of organ donation into the bizarre world of say a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film where bug eyed characters extract human organs for profit to serve some wild cyborg experiment.
Growing muscle meat
Bring in the carcass
Where’d you get the body?
Speak our blasphemy
The visuality of this album echoes the myriad that have preceded it, but this time, to the nth degree, whether you are prepared for it or not. The unapologetic hammering of lyrics and sounds provide a portal into the world they have created for their listeners. There is no respite, only a continuous barrage of songs aimed at causing constant examination of our current state as a people. The next track, “Superbug,” is no exception, striking fear and terror in the hearts of those fearful of a super flu pandemic.
If perchance these various scenarios fail to end one’s life there is the nuclear option as outlined in “Self-Immolate”. A gruesome tactic most often seen through the lens of grainy black and white photographs, Vietnamese Buddhist monks were known to burn themselves in public places to protest the war in Vietnam. While in this particular case the band draws inference to a less politically motivated connection and more of a sci-fi “Venusian” link as outlined in the lyrics
I have gone insane-o
I lust for volcano
Be with molten lava
Give me my nirvana
I have no vertigo
I lust for tornado
Be a leaf upon air
Venusian mal-de-mer (Oh)
and intonated in previous tracks “Venusian 1” and “Venusian 2”. Regardless, the results are equally horrifying. The end is in sight, or in the case of Infest the Rats’ Nest,“Hell” is in sight. Despite the nod to their morbid sense of humor found frequently on previous albums, “God, it’s pretty hot down here…” the track ends with a driving sonic descent carrying a signature 4/4 beat down into the depths of fire and finality.
Pick your poison, this album aims to kill by any manner of means.