There was a time when hard rock and heavy metal bands were prolific to the extent of releasing a new full-length album every year, a time when quantity matched quality and it was not one or the other. That time is long gone, as touring has become a necessity to drive sales, and for a majority of bands it takes anywhere between 2 and 4 years to come up with a new album, as most of them attempt to cope with the challenges of balancing the touring and creative cycles, striving to find the time, space and inspiration to create new music. And then there are some bands that take much longer than 4 years or do not bother writing new music at all, choosing to cash in on their legacy instead.
Perhaps the most striking anomaly to the modern-day norm in the world of heavy music is Australian group King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Anyone completely unfamiliar with the band is instantly intrigued by the name, but is then flabbergasted to a much greater degree upon learning that the band has, in its 9-year career span thus far, released a whopping 15 studio albums, and 2 EPs to boot. This band has explored a multitude of styles through their ultra-prolific output, and has landed upon this website for the first time because their 15th full-length effort, Infest The Rats’ Nest, is indisputably their most metal album till date.
A band of psychedelic / experimental rock ilk attempting to write a speed metal album is something that never happens, which is what makes this release all the more fascinating. More than anything, it goes on to prove that talented, open-minded musicians with creative inspiration can write music of any kind. That is why KGATLW have been able to release albums at a pace that defies belief and have successfully incorporated everything from psych rock, prog, soundtrack-esque music, jazz, soul, folk, garage rock, and now speed metal. This band released five albums in the year 2017, and Infest The Rats’ Nest is not their only release of 2019. But what they have accomplished with their latest LP takes them to a different plane of existence altogether. They’ve made a speed metal album that is as good as, if not better than the output of bands that are full-time flag-bearers of this sub-genre.
The maniacal opening track “Planet B” kicks the album into top gear right from the outset, and the wild ride begins. Clocking in a mere 34 minutes in typical classic speed metal fashion, Infest The Rats’ Nest flies by fast but comes across as incredibly well-rounded in a way that it achieves everything it sets out to do. Although broadly speaking it is apt to term this as a speed metal album, it is by no means one-dimensional or monotonic, and KGATLW have succeeded in putting forth other flavors within each song and from one song to the next. “Mars For The Rich” presents more of the psych / boogie rock elements that band has been known for, before diving back head first into all-out speed on the Slayer-meets-Misfits blend that is “Organ Farmer”. But even within this tune, KGATLW succeed in putting their signature stamp, particularly through the breakdowns that catch listeners unaware.
By the end of “Organ Farmer”, Infest The Rats’ Nest has already formed a vice-like grip which only strengthens further as “Superbug” comes on to spell ominous doom, “Venusian” parts 1 and 2 revel in speedy shred guitar land, and sandwiched in between is “Perihelion”, a hard-hitting mid-paced stoner/sludge composition. Some bands harbor the misconception of treating an album like a collection of singles and that’s where the flow suffers, but thankfully KGATLW is not one of those bands, and the cohesive flow throughout this album is so natural and seamless, it feels more and more like a single 34-minute track upon every repeated listen of the album in its entirety. You know an album flows well when the music and lyrics get ingrained in your brain more than the actual song titles.
Even though there is not a single dull or filler moment on here whatsoever, the album does save its best for last and reaches its crescendo with two absolute raging beasts, ” Self-Immolate” and “Hell”.
The songwriting, the production, the mix, the tones, the performances, the track listing, the song lengths and overall duration, everything about Infest The Rats’ Nest is, quite exemplary. One would be extremely hard-pressed to find any flaws or shortcomings, and this review certainly finds none.
For a metalhead, the most profound realization upon listening to this album is that, even if you have listened to thousands of heavy metal albums and/or reviewed hundreds of them, this KGATLW possesses and emanates the power to somehow make you feel as if it’s the first metal album you’re ever listened to … such is its unique style, such is the freshness and energy it puts forth, and such is the excitement it induces in you.
It is not an exaggeration to state that if you listen to Infest The Rats’ Nest once, you will find yourself listening to it on an endless loop. You are hereby warned to proceed with caution, but that said, if you claim to be a metalhead and you’re not listening to this album, you are indeed doing yourself a disservice. With Infest The Rats’ Nest, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have delivered what is and will turn out to be, without doubt, the best release of year 2019 and one of the greatest releases of the 21st century.
– by Andrew Bansal
Release Date: August 16 2019
Record Label: Flightless / ATO
Track Listing & Full Album Stream: