King Gizzard’s “Infest The Rat’s Nest”: a Tantalizing Account of The End

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard at a concert in 2018. Photo by Roberto Finizio/REX/Shutterstock (9807852c)

Infest The Rat’s Nest kicks off with a double kick pedal and heavy distortion. If we didn’t know any better, we would think we were about to delve into a thrash metal album. Of course, the Australian psych-rock band is continuously evolving, so there is really no way of knowing at this point what the rest of the album will have in store.

If you liked the hippy happy-go-lucky Fishing for Fishies and were hoping to hear more of the same, you’re about to be brutally disappointed. One would be forgiven for thinking that Spotify actually made a mistake and mislabeled the album, which sounds more like Motorhead than the King Gizzard we heard on the album which was released just four months ago.

Musically, the throwback thrash sound of Infest The Rats Nest sits somewhere between Foo Fighters, Electric Wizard and Slayer. Metal is infamously not a genre to experiment with, but a way of life. And yet King Gizzard seamlessly slips into a heavier, angrier sound with double bass drums and shredding. Given that thrash metal and King Gizzard both have roots in blues and acid rock, perhaps the album should be treated not as an experiment, but as an inevitable phase. Perhaps the point the album makes is that metal doesn’t have to be a committed way of life, it’s a mood we all go through.

Lyrically, the album is a natural progression from Fishing For Fishies. While the April album is an environmental plea, Infest The Rats’ Nest is the story of the end. While the rich retire to Mars, the poor “stare sadly into my beer”, longing to escape. “Superbug” is the deadly contagious, inter-generational bug that never stops. You can take that as a metaphor for whatever you want.

Somewhere between “Venusian 1” and “Venusian 2”, the thrash metal surprise shifts from a jarring one to a welcome one. As a King Gizzard album, it’s impossible to know where it ranks as it simply doesn’t compare to anything he’s made before. As a metal album, however, it’s energized, impassioned and musically terrific.