Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard

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Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava Review

by Tim Sendra

Born out of jam sessions where the band went into the studio with no preconceived notions other than preselected tunings and rhythms, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard prove yet again on Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava that they haven't run out of ideas even after releasing more records per year than most bands do in a lifetime. Despite its origins as a freeform workout, the final product actually has structure and purpose thanks to the editing job the band's Stu MacKenzie did and the overdubs that the rest of the gang added later. It's definitely not as directed as some of their concept albums; the main point seems to be getting loose and loud while delving into the vagaries of nature and their standby concern: global catastrophe. The songs are long, but don't meander much -- the guitars have more bite than a pit-full of snakes and MacKenzie made sure to add dynamic shifts and the occasional chorus as he went. It's nothing new for a band that has displayed no fear when it comes to stretching out past the ten-minute mark; they've never been tied to any rules and that's what makes them so freeing and inspiring to listen to. If they want to dip into some reggae-adjacent grooving ("Mycelium") that's totally cool. If they want to veer into cop-show jazz with wah-wah pedals, staccato bass runs, and silky flutes, more power to them. Murky Afropop blues jams -- "Magma" -- that unspool over nine tightly scripted minutes? Yes, that works. Heavy prog-jazz doom rockers -- "Gliese 710" -- that combine Brubeck-on-downers piano chords with blown-out, amp-inflaming guitars, and far-out sax blowing? Perfect! Also on point are rippling funk rockers ("Iron Lung") and ("Hell's Itch") that have the feel of Santana, -- if they were beach rats from Australia. The latter song really lets loose with some fret-melting guitar dueling that escapes being indulgent thanks to the sheer intensity of the playing. When the song ends after 14 sweaty minutes, the first instinct isn't to faint from exhaustion, it's to rewind the song to the beginning and jump back into the magical world they created. That's the feeling the whole album engenders. Unlike some of their efforts, which can wear out their welcome in spots, there isn't a moment of boredom or repetition here. Amazingly, it's another fresh start for the band that's on par with career high points like Butterfly 3000, Nonagon Infinity, or Flying Microtonal Banana. King Gizzard are restless and brilliant and listeners must follow everything they do like a hawk because they might unleash something classic, just like they did with Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava.

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