King Gizzard know how to tell a story – from their album marketing to their genre-flipping to the lyrical melodrama of various entries in their now 24-album strong catalogue. Occasionally, the two halves will line up as with 2016’s masterful breakthrough Nonagon Infinity. PetroDragonic Apocalypse, their latest, just about manages to strike a balance.
There’s no denying their broad talents: the Australian six-piece can tick off jazz, pastoral folk, experiments in microtonal tunings, surf rock and synth-pop alongside their more obvious garage-psych records. Here, they return to the thrash-metal of 15th album Infest the Rat’s Nest and show off their impressive technical proficiency. Album highlight ‘Gila Monster’s sticky chanted chorus is beastly in all the right ways, destined to become a mainstay of their mammoth live sets, while ‘Witchcraft’ uses irregular rhythms to contort note-perfect thrash into something more fascinating. Blast beats, chugging riffs and droning vocals reflect the band’s deep interest and genuine respect for the genre throughout.
And alongside musical acumen, they continue building out the Gizzverse in a relentlessly marketable way. PetroDragonic Apocalypse is dense in high-concept lore that will take multiple listens to digest, and arrives with news that the band have already completed work on their next album. The album ends with a 15-minute exclusive to physical pressings of the record, which (obviously) covers further ground sonically.
While cynics will envy King Gizzard for their productive combination of extensive output and shrewd business, they remain unstoppable. PetroDragonic Apocalypse is another chapter in their ever-expanding canon that juggles just enough tricks to keep things fresh. Where the album ranks within said canon, and whether the franchise is still worth keeping up with, is a question that only the most invested of fans may want to answer.