Entertainment & Media
L.W. Album Review
By Charles Posada
Volume 1 Issue 6
March 18, 2021
Original album cover by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard
The sister album to K.G.
Review by Charles Posada
This album contains strong language and violent imagery:
LISTENER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
On February 26, 2021, Australian Rock Band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard released their 17th album, L.W.: Exploration Into Microtonal Tuning Vol.3. L.W. It is the continuation of their last album, K.G.: Exploration Into Microtonal Tuning Vol.2 which was released back on November 11, 2020. Both albums are sequels to the band’s first dive into microtonal tuning Flying Microtonal Banana: Exploration Into Microtonal Tuning Vol.1 which was released on February 24, 2017 (Along with 4 other marvelous albums). Flying Microtonal Banana took a psychedelic rock route. However, K.G. and L.W. were more of a “rainbow” stretching from Rock to Metal along with Turkish Dance music. On L.W., the band’s music becomes more diverse and more expressive in its lyrics than ever before. Currently, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard consists of 6 members: Stu Mackenzie, (Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Flute, Bass) Ambrose Kenny Smith, (Vocals, Harmonica, Keyboards.) Joey Walker, (Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards) Cook Craig, (Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards) Michael Cavanagh, (Drums, Percussion) and Lucas Skinner (Bass, Keyboards).
If Not Now, Then When?
The album opens with dramatic metal riffs (a continuation of the previous/last song from K.G “Hungry Wolf Of Fate”) sounding a lot like 70’s rock band Black Sabbath in their “Sweet Leaf” era. As the final riff has been played, you may think that this is a heavy, sludgy metal song. However, that’s where you're wrong – the song is actually a journey into funk. “If Not Now, Then When?” is the band’s debut into a uniquely funk-inspired experiment. The song keeps your feet tapping with deep lyrics about the world around us, with subjects including animal extinction, technology’s advancement and danger, and the increase in global warming. As their first dive into funk music, they have proven once again that they as a band can do any genre whenever they want.
O.N.E starts with a dreamy, ghostly type of flow with a bluesy harmonica while front man Stu Mackenzie sings in a melancholy tone on “One not everywhere.” The hi-hats then start tapping while the song gets more upbeat, and suddenly it turns into a desert rock tune. The lyrics describe having a nightmare because of animal cruelty and the responsibility humans have regarding animal abuse. The instrumentation is perfectly done with some intense guitar riffs, rumbling drums, and a thunderous bassline. The song’s climax then arrives with an incredible solo by guitarist Joey Walker. It’s somewhat of a standard song when it comes to King Gizzard’s microtonal rock, but this pushes it slightly above their average microtonal rock music.
Pleura sounds like a Krautrock song from the 70’s done by the band “CAN”, with repeating melodies, heavy bass and drums, guitars as backup instruments and very grungy vocals. It's not all heavy however, there are some parts where it gets to a slowed down psychedelic chorus melody. The lyrics give a bit of a throwback to their 2016 - 2017 period of Obscured Mythology: nerdy lyrics with H.P Lovecraft or Robert Graves type descriptions, contrasting with their current modern environmental/activist type messages. With this subject it talks about COVID-19 and how it can destroy the thin membranes in your lungs called pleura. The song also strongly alludes to the past and current political climates, with charged messages directed towards our former President. The Necromancer, the band argues, will greet us all as we all slowly become diseased from COVID-19. It’s dark… both lyrically and instrumentally. Easily one of their best works in recent history.
This is a song coming straight out of a “Kill Bill” movie, filled with sounds of a haunted shrine and a beginning of a big battle with samurai swords. It's all spooky until fast-paced drums kick in and Ambrose Kenny Smith sings “How can you get away with a murder?” A provocative song with powerful anti-religious imagery, this track dives into grievances with the present state of religion in America.
The sounds of the wild west. The dust in the wind flowing across the land, nothing but tumbleweed and lurking bandits. Suddenly, the acoustic guitars play in and all the instruments play in a menacing rhythm as if a showdown is about to happen. As the song progresses and becomes faster and more intense, you’ll almost want to ride a horse to this wonderful Spaghetti Western style song with Eastern Turkish style sound. You may assume the song is about something political or environmental. That’s not the case in this one, though, as it talks about a reoccurring character in the band’s discography called Han Tyumi: A curious cyborg who seeks to return to his human self and to seek knowledge of the universe. This marks an unexpected return of the band’s nerdy Sci Fi type lyrics and every King Gizzard fan’s favorite character.
East West Link
This is the Boogie of the album and almost like the younger brother of “Static Electricity.” It sounds nearly identical to “Static Electricity,” only a bit groovier and faster. This song would definitely be in a Quentin Tarantino movie if he ever made a spaghetti western film, the protagonist and his crew on their way to rob a train filled with a gold. The title and lyrics refer to the “East West Link Project” which was very controversial in Australia. The proposal consisted of building a giant road that connected the east and west part of Australia, potentially damaging the region’s wildlife. The project was cancelled due to lack of convenient transportation and excessive monetary expenses. As the band is from Australia, it’s only reasonable for them to write a boogie rock song about it.
Written by Joe Walker, this is probably the only real menacing song on the whole album. This slow song with a heavy Nirvana/Foo Fighters inspired riff feels like it wants to explore but it never does. The vocals are quiet and whispering - almost like ghosts formed a rock band. The song becomes boring at some points, but it makes up with heavy drums and roaring guitar. The song juxtaposes lyrical, mental peace with the instruments dying to explode like a timebomb. This song isn’t the worst they have done. But it certainly could have been improved here and there with maybe more easy-to-listen-to vocals.
The keyboards, percussion, and vocals steal the show in the catchiest song in the album. Sounding like a random ringtone with dramatic arrangement, the song has lyrics talking about society being blind to the mess we have made around our planet that is supposed to be our home. The vocals almost sound like Stu Mackenzie about to cry or being very dramatic about the mess we can create.
At last, the grand finale. What will it be? Rock? Funk? A genre we have yet to hear? No. instead, the band’s heaviest metal song ever to be composed finishes the album. With inspirations from bands like Sleep and TOOL, K.G.L.W is the ultimate song of the whole album. Chanting vocals repeating the letters “K G L W”. Heavy bass, roaring guitars, and menacing drums give the whole thing its glow. K.G.L.W (Outro) is the older and superior sister to K.G’s version of K.G.L.W. which was more of a warmup session of microtonal tuning unlike L.W’s version of K.G.L.W which feels more like an anthem. The song reaches to the album’s highest climax and ends beautifully with a howl from Stu Mackenzie. What happens after that? Will the next album be yet again another exploration into microtonal tuning? Perhaps something they have not done before? We can only wait and found out what the band has planned for their 18th album…
A wonderful album overall. Perhaps even better than their previous album “K.G.,” the collection’s occasional rough edges are almost unnoticeable from many of the best highlights this album gives. Even if this album was a horrible take, it was made during a time of pandemic and limited access to sessions, so who would be able to blame them? This album was a perfect second half of the band’s name as well as an improvement of the band's creativity. As of right now, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard promises to release 3 albums (maybe more) during 2021. The wizards never rest showing no signs of stopping on being one of the most creative modern bands out there.