King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard is a band that wears many hats. Infest the Rats’ Nest might be their best fitting one yet.
King Gizzard’s second album of the year is an interesting turn, but it’s hard to expect anything less than a surprise from the band at this point. While their genre-hopping tendencies often earn them hatred from elitists in the styles they try their hand at, Infest the Rats’ Nest manages to balance the halcyon sounds of various metal subgenres, primarily filtering thrash metal though their unique garage-psych sound.
The most consistent aspect of Gizzard’s oeuvre has been the absolutely insane narratives they weave into their albums, all of them connecting into one larger story known as the “Gizzverse.” Infest the Rats’ Nest presents one of their most focused and engaging yarns yet, while leaving plenty of room for interpretation.
Frontman Stu Mackenzie tells the story of a dystopian but not unlikely future in which all the rich have left to colonize Mars, leaving the lower class on a decaying Earth riddled with disease and climate problems. Without spoiling anything, the story certainly escalates from there, but the premise is something all too real, especially with Elon Musk and NASA theorizing about Mars colonization.
The great thing about Infest the Rats’ Nest is it never feels like a corny homage to the ridiculous metal concept albums of yesteryear; it’s clear the band is passionate about this story they’re telling, and it more than pays off.
Narrative aside, the album stands out for its unique production. Aiming for a raw style as opposed to a heavy one, Gizzard adds a special flair to songs like “Superbug” and “Venusian 2,” which respectively lean more into stoner and heavy metal. It’s this garage rock attack that sets this album apart from metal mainstays, but the mathy instrumentals and other Gizzard-isms, such as harmonica, fuzzy wah-wah guitars, and their signature microtones pop up as well. Some tracks don’t stand out as much as others, but there’s not a bad song on the album.
King Gizzard are, by all metrics, still outsiders to the genre of metal, but it’s their think-outside-the-box mentality that cements Infest the Rats’ Nest as one of their best albums yet.