King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are fixated on a destructive path towards warping the space-time continuum with their latest album “Murder of The Universe.” Formed in 2010 out of Melbourne, Australia, this quirky septet has already validated themselves as a prolific band with nine albums already to their name.
It is quite difficult to pinpoint the essence of King Gizzard due to their eclectic styles and forward thinking mindset. They perilously blend elements of garage, punk and psychedelic rock into tense arrangements of disarrayed jams and blistering melodies. Rough around the edges, King Gizzard places a stamp on their muddy demeanor with “Murder of The Universe,” a volatile psych-rock symphony devised from the cosmos.
Upon initial listen, “Murder of the Universe” will surely erode the senses of listeners. It is a blistering parasite enraptured in intergalactic turmoil — one that bleeds, squeals, spews and festers like an infected gash. Anyone familiar with their music would presume that after nine albums, a band like King Gizzard would eventually tail off and rehash their prior material. Contrarily, “Murder of the Universe” defies presuppositions and furthers their proggy ingenuousness with a multi-layered, conceptual experience worthy of exploration. This is not just a King Gizzard album, it is a pulsating rock opera separated into three parts detailing the destruction of the universe. With three stories delivered to document this massacre, a subtle poetic beauty dwells beneath all the hyperactive carnage. Leah Senior’s pastoral spoken word placates — providing a reprieve to the sonic, murderous trail King Gizzard travels. This elegant narration operates oddly well with the band’s ear-splitting nature, an aura enveloped by driving, rhythmic guitar work, intense double drumming and echoed vocals entombed beneath the most abysmal psychotropic gutter imaginable — a combination that helps spruce each lengthy passage of abstract storytelling.
The beginning of this three-part magnum opus unfurls with the first chapter entitled “The Tale Of The Altered Beast,” which cuts like one extended garage rock anthem in the same vein of their eighth studio album “Nonagon Infinity.” Just by listening to the first few tracks, King Gizzard’s ambitious mentality bleeds through. They are noisier, more belligerent and more disorienting with a myriad of instrumental and vocal techniques twisting and breathing throughout the songwriting. The first nine tracks conjure a foreboding tale of metaphorical ferocity through various versions of the “Altered Beast” (I,II, III, IV) and “Alter Me” (I,II,III), steadily revealing a monstrosity, an altered beast dwelling within humanity, ready to take full form with the impending doom of the universe.
Commenced by Stu Mackenzie’s hypnotic, throaty vocals and Senior’s reticent narration, chapter two, “The Lord of Lightning” Vs. Balrog” stipulates the disarray between the Lord of Lightning and the Balrog. With the obvious allusions to their back catalog, this chapter presents further evidence of an existing King Gizzard, multiverse entanglement. Serving as the album’s arc, the tracks here are more song-oriented and jaunt with melodious fervency.
“Han-Tyumi And The Murder Of The Universe.” illustrates King Gizzard at their most dense and conceptual form. Chapter 3 of this 21-track journey contorts the listeners through the echoing chambers of Han-Tyumi’s mind. Han Tyumi, who was once human, now a mechanical cyborg, resides in a near future “bereft of two human things,” two qualities only a human can do, two things that bridge the gap between fulfilled humanity and his dwindling humanity — to die and to vomit. This desire, repulsive yet so devastating, parallels the notion that death itself brings beauty and meaning to life.
As the album reaches to its closing track, “Murder Of The Universe,” Han-Tyumi finally attains sublimity by acquiring the ability to vomit. He is overwhelmed by this sensation as it seeps in and swaddles every part of him. He begins to indulge in this rediscovered ability and vomits far-reaching amounts — so much it causes him to implode and diffuse into the universe until the cosmos and everything within them are consumed by this conglomerate of throw-up. The final track to this unnerving third and final chapter is so brilliantly disgusting on such an epic level — it captures the disturbing atmosphere to an ‘80s b-movie that touches upon nebulous body horror, a truly crushing end to a crushing album.
Every fracture and every pore of this album oozes with lo-fi production and a disheveled vibe only a band like King Gizzard can project. In terms of sound, it goes toe-to-toe with their greatest accomplishment, “Nonagon.” But this album’s lyricism subverts their previous success. With their latest mural of amorphous concepts, King Gizzard brandishes an interesting mix of cryptic narration and repetitious Gizzard lyricism. Although it may take awhile to fathom, the lyricism strikes a nerve throughout.
From the nausea-inducing imagery behind Han-Tyumi to the compelling metaphors whispered by the dystopian narrator, “Murder of the Universe” accomplishes poetic bloodshed: “My left hand is a mouth, my right is a fork I will pull you apart like a butcher pulls pork.” “Now dear listener, we crossed the foe / The foe with the weapons and heavy cargo,” “And whatever you do, there’s no turning back / you’ve reached the end of the cul-de-sac.” Whatever King Gizzard is attempting to communicate, it proceeds to disrupt the comfortability of every listener. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s latest album is an emblazoned wildfire — it’s chaotic, cascading, intelligent and grounded in filth