Back in 2019, the members of the acclaimed Aussie JOVM mainstays King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard released their thrash metal concept album Infest The Rats’ Nest. The album allowed the band to tap into their inner metalhead, to commute with the pre-teenage selves. Written as an off-the-cuff experiment, Infest The Rats’ Nest quickly became a fan favorite, and the album’s headbanging, mosh pit stirring rippers are highlights of their live shows. And although, it was initially intended as a one-off, the band has head the siren call of metal in the wind.
“When we made Rats’ Nest, it felt experimental,” King Gizzard’s Stu Mackenzie (vocals, guitar) says. “Like, ‘Here’s this music that some of us grew up on but we’d never had the guts or confidence to really play before, so let’s give it a go and see what happens’. And when we made that album we were like, ‘Fuck, why did it take us so long to do this?’ It’s just so much fun to play that music, and those songs work so well when we play them live. So we always had it in our minds to make another metal record.”
Understandably, the band was wary of repeating themselves. So when Gizzard’s core trio of metalheads — Mackenzie, Joey Walker (guitar, bass, vocals) and Michael “Cavs” Cavanaugh (drums) — convened to began writing the material that would eventually comprise their remarkable 24th album, and second foray into thrash metal, the double LP PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation, they approached the creative process and the project in a radically different way for them. “We worked on it the same way we started our Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava album last year,” Mackenzie explains. “We wrote a song a day, and we came into the practice space with no riffs, no tunes, no ideas, and started from scratch. And we jammed, and recorded everything, and pieced the songs together from that. I’d sketched out the story the songs would tell, and I’d portioned it out into seven song titles, with a short paragraph of what would happen in the song. I guess we kind of made the record backwards.”
PetroDragonic Apocalypse owes a ton to fantasy lore — I mean, look at the title, right? “We wanted to start the story in the real world, and then send it to hell,” grins Mackenzie. “It’s about humankind and it’s about planet Earth but it’s also about witches and dragons and shit” he laughs. Superficially, the album’s lyrics are fun, but they’re profound if the listener digs a bit deeper. Shakespeare and the Bible inspired the vice of some of the lyrics, which play out in the album’s blackly comedic and bleakly destructive tale, delivered with high drama. Sonically, the album’s material is reportedly pure headbanging thrash metal riffage that also channels the prog-influenced vibe of the genre’s late 80’s apex.
PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation is slated for a June 16, 2023 release through the band’s own KGLW. The album’s first single “Gila Monster” is a headbanging, hard-charging, ripper, built with layers of crunchy, power chord-driven riffage, thunderous drumming and the Aussie JOVM mainstay’s unerring knack for mosh pit friendly hooks paired with Mackenzie’s snarling delivery. While clearly indebted to late 80s thrash metal, “Gila Monster” sees the band stepping past their influences to create something that sounds remarkably period specific — but absolutely new.
The accompanying video, directed by SPOD is fittingly bonkers and hits every metal trope. It features wizards, demonic-looking rituals, animals that could be simultaneously friend and foe and cinematic vistas. “I wanted to shoot Lord of the Rings 4 but also make a video game, so I mixed both mediums and came up with this majestic journey for truth and power in a cursed world,” SPOD explains. “I mixed 3D animation, modeling & live footage in a 3D video game program to create this marvelous voyage of man & beast. Friend or foe?”
Now, if you’ve been following the Gizz over the past decade, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that the band is currently putting the finishing touches on album 25, another seven-track concept album that was started around the same time as PetroDragonic Apocalypse, and followed its improvised, one-song-a-day method. “I’m not a tortured artist, I’m more of a mad professor,” admits Mackenzie. “And after a bunch of records crafted out of jams, we’re very much ready to make records in the old-fashioned way of writing the songs before we enter the studio, once these ones are done.”