We rank every King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard album
Australia’s hardest working band is back at it again this month. The wonderfully named King Gizzard And The Wizard Lizard is gearing up for the release of K.G., the band’s 16th studio album in just eight years. Preceded by four eclectic singles showcasing the band’s genre-bending musical style incorporating everything from psychedelic-pop to prog-rock and heavy metal, K.G. will no doubt be another experimental headbanging delight from the Melbourne collective.
As we wait in giddy anticipation of King Gizz‘s new record, we thought there’s no better time to delve back into the band’s stacked discography and get reacquainted with how awesome this band is. With 15 major releases to choose from, it’s hard to know where to begin, so we’ve given each album a whirl and ranked them for you to get more easily acquainted. While you’d normally go from worst to best, King Gizzard are yet to put out a real stinker, so think of this piece as more of an overview of our favourite King Gizzard’s albums and a celebration of their unique back catalogue rather than a steadfast ranking of their greatest releases.
Like your drunken uncle who rambles on about a bunch of random topics after having a few too many Christmas froths, Oddments is musically all over the shop. Opener ‘Alluda Majaka’ is an organ-driven LSD trip, ‘Vegemite’ a 60s influenced ode to every Australian’s favourite spread and ‘Hot Wax’ a delightful surf rock ditty. While there are some good moments, Oddments lacks direction and is at the lower end of King Gizzard releases.
Best track: ‘Hot Wax’
14. 12 Bar Bruise
King Gizzard’s debut is a ferocious assault on the senses chock full of distorted guitars and psychedelic melodies. Laying the groundwork for future releases, 12 Bar Bruise is a great time capsule of Gizz’s early psych-rock foundation before the experimentation began.
Best track: ‘Muckraker’
13. Gumboot Soup
Made up of an eclectic collection of songs that were left of the band’s four 2017 albums, Gumboot Soup is a mixed bag of odds and ends. That’s not to say it doesn’t offer some absolute pearlers, like the rollicking ‘Muddy Water’ and crunching ‘The Great Chain Of Being,’ but there’s definitely a lack of cohesion on this upbeat record.
Best track: ‘All Is Known’
12. Murder Of The Universe
King Gizzard’s longest album (21 tracks running 46 minutes) is also their strangest. This is an inventive concept album split into three separate stories containing spoken-word narratives, sci-fi themes and dystopian instrumentation. When it works it’s tremendous, such as the black Sabbath-esque ‘The Lord Of Lightning,’ but for the most part Murder In The Universe is a weird listen that will please long time fans and confuse everyone else.
Best track: ‘The Lord Of Lightning’
11. Sketches Of Brunswick East
Teaming with Mile High Club’s Alex Brettin, King Gizzard explore the world of jazz with their 11th studio album. A strangely compelling fusion of the Gizz’s psychedelic rock style and Mile High Club’s experimental jazz concoctions, Sketches Of Brunswick East is an interesting detour with some great moments.
Best track: ‘Dusk To Dawn On Lygon Street’
10. Infest The Rat’s Nest
King Gizzard explore the dark depths of 80s heavy metal on the hard and fast Infest The Rat’s Nest. Influenced by thrash metal pioneers such as Metallica, Slayer and Overkill, the album is King Gizzard’s most political yet, exploring the ecological problems facing the world backed by heavy metal instrumentation. It’s a solid album but the lack of originality means it gets a little repetitive by the end.
Best track: ‘Planet B’
This unique idea for an album features four tracks running 10 minutes and 10 seconds in length. Each quarter of the album is an up-tempo exploration of jazz-rock with echoes of Santana in his prime. Quarters! is another absorbing record and provides an astonishing glimpse into the inner workings of Stu Mackenzie’s creativity.
Best track: ‘The River’
8. Fishing For Fishes
After a year without music, King Gizzard finally returned in 2019 with Fishing For Fishes. Easily one of the band’s most accessible albums, King Gizzard lean into their 60s influences on songs about the environment that’ll make you want to save the earth while getting down and having a boogie.
Best track: ‘Fishing For Fishes’
7. Paper Mache Dream Balloon
Expected the unexpected. Following on from King Gizzard’s four-track concept album Quarters!, the band went in another entirely different direction with the acoustic Paper Mache Dream Balloon. This one has a bit of everything, from the creepy ‘Trapdoor’ to harmonica featuring ‘N.G.R.I (Bloodstain),’ and is another colourful addition to the King Gizzard discography.
Best track: ‘Bone’
Polygondwanaland might not contain the experimental flourishes of some of their better-known releases, but it’s a brain-busting collection of songs that is hard to fault. Each of the 10 tracks has been expertly crafted and showcases a newfound maturity in the seven-piece’s writing process. It also continues their hot streak of album title tracks being phenomenal.
Best track: ‘Horology’
5. Eyes Like The Sky
Following up their debut with a Spaghetti Western concept album tells you all you need to know about King Gizzard founder Stu Mackenzie’s wild creativity. Described as a “cult western audio book,” the album is narrated by Broderick Smith, frontman of The Dingos and father of King Gizzard keyboardist Ambrose Kenny Smith. It might be a little high on this list for many, but Eyes Like The Sky is a genius idea that only a band as inventive as King Gizz could pull off. For fans of Red Dead Redemption and Clint Eastwood’s Dollars trilogy.
Best track: ‘The Raid’
4. Float Along – Fill Your Lungs
If anyone misses the unadulterated pleasure of King Gizzard’s early psychedelic 60s guitar drenched output, give this record a re-listen and all will be right in the world. Float Along – Fill Your Lungs is best remembered amongst day one fans for its epic opener ‘Head On/Pill.’ This brain buzzing assault on the senses is 16-minutes of guitar-fuzz, driving percussion and distorted vocals, ending in a cathartic explosion of ear-shattering sound. Delightful.
Best track: ‘Head On/Pill’
3. I’m In Your Mind
The album that got me into King Gizzard also finds the band at their most confident. After several exploratory releases, I’m In Your Mind finds King Gizzard balancing the signature psych-rock of their first few albums with more experimental and jazz numbers without alienating their huge fan base.
Best track: ‘I’m In Your Mind’
2. Flying Microtonal Banana
Incorporating elements of krautrock and Middle Eastern music throughout their ninth album, King Gizzard weave a tantalising tapestry of intriguing melodies and worldly sonics on the comically titled Flying Microtonal Banana. Listening to this album is like watching a snake charmer, with King Gizzard hypnotising you with their beguiling compositions and taking you to the edge of danger before bringing you safely back to reality.
Best track: ‘Billabong Valley’
1. Nonagon Infinity
Arguably King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard’s magnum opus, Nonagon Infinity is everything you want from a King Gizzard release. Designed to play on an infinite loop, the album is a hard-rocking collection of ballbusting songs that never ends, literally. Every song on this album is heart starter, from the Middle Eastern infused opener ‘Robot Soup’ to the seven-minute epic ‘Evil Death Roll’ and riff-heavy album closer ‘Road Train.’ Full of twists and turns that will have you screaming with delight, Nonagon Infinity is the King Gizzard release.
Best track: ‘Evil Death Roll’
K.G. is set for release November 20.
Words by Tobias Handke
Image: King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard