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The planet is in trouble. Dire trouble. But fear not: Melbourne seven-piece King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard return to save us all, this time armed only with blast beats, an arsenal of well-oiled guitars that are locked and loaded, and a desire to melt faces clean off.
Released just six months after the uplifting blues-rock boogie and deep electro explorations of Fishing For Fishes and drawing on the mid/late 1980s golden period of thrash metal - Metallica and Slayer, certainly, but also lesser-cited bands such as Exodus, Kreator and Overkill - Infest The Rats’ Nest sees a wholly unexpected creative detour into new sonic terrain.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard aren’t mere dabbling dilletantes either. Their love of this ferocious music runs deep, and was previously explored on 2017’s apocalyptic concept album Murder Of The Universe, hinted at during 2016’s award-winning Nonagon Infinity’s more bludgeoning moments and elsewhere in numerous hardcore psychedelic freak-outs in their back catalogue.
“In year 4 there was an older kid who was into Rammstein,” explains Stu of his early discover discovery of metal’s extremities. “I made friends with him and we put together a performance at our school assembly where we headbanged to ‘Du Hast’. I got whiplash, which I thought was pretty cool. That was my introduction to heavy metal, and soon Rammstein led to Metallica, Metallica led to Slayer, Slayer led to Kreator and Sodom. The German bands really kicked my ass and scared the hell out of me too. Later on, when I picked up a guitar I realised that shit was too hard to play, so I got into rock ‘n’ roll and garage. That was liberating.”
Infest The Rats’ Nest is the sound of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard scratching the thrash metal itch, fully and unequivocally. This is an album dripping with disdain and disgust for a planet consuming itself in a mass act of cannibalism which meets the fears and anxieties of a planet head on; here is a place where uncompromising music meets the concerns of contemporary cli-fi, that emerging movement of writing centred around ecological disaster and its repercussions.
After a punishing release and touring schedule of 2017-18, Infest The Rats’ Nest was recorded by a pared-down King Gizzard line-up. The band have always enjoyed a fluid approach to writing and recording and with guitarist Cook Craig and keyboardist/harmonic player Ambrose Kenny-Smith touring with their other band The Murlocs, bassist Lucas Skinner enjoying first-time fatherhood and drummer Eric Moore running the band’s own label Flightless (other bands they have released include Thee Oh Sees, Amyl And The Sniffers and Tropical Fuck Storm), they were down to a three-piece.
Infest The Rats’ Nest sees Stu and guitarist Joey Walker share all the guitar and bass parts, with (other drummer) Michael Cavanagh recording all the drums. This small set-up ensures tight arrangements and maximum velocity - and another curveball from this most unpredictable (yet consistent) of bands.
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7. Venusian 2