I began my five-part review of the 2017 slew of albums provided to us by Aussie pysch-rockers King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard last week, and I continue it today with the 2nd album, released June 23rd.
2. Murder of the Universe
Easily the most controversial of the five albums, Murder of the Universe closes out the “Gizzverse Trilogy,” the three-album-spanning pseudo-narrative epic the band unwound starting with I'm in Your Mind Fuzz and Nonagon Infinity. Most of the internet discussion of this album centers around two things: the “story” and the abundance of spoken-word. Which of course must be addressed as immediately as it is presented in the album; that is, of course, immediately. Separated into three “chapters,” The Tale of the Altered Beast, The Lord of Lightening Vs. Balrog, and Han-Tyumi and the Murder of the Universe, each section employs extensive spoken-word bits, separated by musical sections more obtuse than any previous release of the band in their rhythmic changes and explosive screeches, screams, yelps, shouts, and various other guttural expressions, effects which only serve to enhance the utter unhinged-ness of the album. Although in my opinion the spoken-word never once overshadows the music, and in fact only compliments it as the passages provide clear musical progression with the band easing up during the speaking, only to explode in a froth of nasty noisy riffage in the interim, to many the album will appear to be saturated to a fault with boggy spoken word, slowing down the momentum and interrupting “the flow.” Coming down to a matter of opinion however, obviously, the album will appear genius to others, myself included, especially those of us pre-disposed to spoken-word elements and narrative debauchery.
Although “simpler” in instrumentation than FMB, each player knows his role to a tee, and the ensemble of sounds could not have been further perfected, building, climaxing, descending, and occasionally utterly disintegrating with well-rehearsed ease. The album is not perfect either, however, as repeated listening’s reveal the triteness of some of the music next to one another, and some of the more tongue-in-cheek moments could easily come across as contrived, with the seemingly constant call-backs to the band’s previous escapades, (see I'm in Your Mind Fuzz, Nonagon Infinity, and even Paper Mache Dream Balloon). Harkening back to previous work as often as it does, the album may be the most prevalent example of fan-service in the musical world, although that comes along with some of the heaviest, most aggressive and avant garde music the group has ever produced, venturing heavily into black humor and the macabre with themes of death, transhumanism, the circulatory nature of the universe, cyborgs, and vomit. My personal favorite of 2017.
Favorite Tracks: Digital Black, Vomit Coffin, Altered Beast IV,
Least Favorite Tracks: Some Context, Soy Protein Munt Machine
Overall rating: 8.5/10