Style: Stoner Metal
Release Date: 16 Aug 2019
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I've heard a few albums from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, having found them during the publicity boom for Polygondwanaland's ever-looping nature, and I've enjoyed them. I know they're no one trick pony but what I've found thus far has been pretty consistently psychedelic rock and this is clearly not that. There's psych here but this is a metal album.
Buzz suggested that it was going to be a thrash album, which made it a must for me, but it really isn't, even if there are some overt thrash touches. I heard a lot of Motörhead here, especially in the double bass drumming and in the guitar approach on songs like Mars for the Rich that emulates No Class. Even on faster numbers such as Planet B, they're as unlike a thrash band as they are the King Gizzard we know from earlier albums.
This is much heavier stuff than usual but the psych is still there and it's done in an notably alternative way. I heard plenty of Voivod too (not only in the use of science fiction) and heavier British punk like Discharge. I'm sure there are comparisons to make to nineties American metal as well that I'm unable to provide, as I didn't pay that much attention back then. A few tracks, especially Venusian 2, sound rather more like a Hawkwind album meant for 33rpm but played at 45rpm.
Stu Mackenzie, vocalist and guitarist, has said that his influences for the album came from the usual suspects of American and German thrash: Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and Overkill for the American side and Sodom and Kreator for the German. He also added Rammstein in there for good measure too. I have to say that I'm hearing very little of this, except in some odd phrasing here and there, the one exception being Self-Immolate, which has a slower Slayer vibe, including some frantic drumming from Michael Cavanagh to kick it off.
Maybe there's a little Sodom, as there's an overt punky edge to this metal. The guitars are fuzzy and often laden with feedback. The vocals are raw. I'd lean more towards Motörhead, the Plasmatics and some of the heavier stoner metal bands. In fact, some of it, such as Superbug, plays far too slow and monotonous for my tastes, taking the hypnotic tone of some psychedelic rock and applying it to a sort of Swans-esque drone mentality. I'm certainly not used to thrash albums being played too slowly, just as I'm not used to any thrash bands using feedback as a weapon like this.
The album's a creature of two sides, the first dealing with topical concerns about the environment and the second exploring Venus with rebels forced into leaving the Earth. Both angles seem angry and reactionary, which works for a angry and reactionary style like this. While there's plenty of punk in the sound here, it's punk in attitude and delivery too.
And that makes all for a surprisingly interesting approach for a band most of us know for psychedelic rock workouts. All power to King Gizzard for an interesting diversion into a new sound, but I have no doubt that, when I'm in the mood for them, I'll be pulling Polygondwanaland back out instead.