When it comes to approaching the infamous double-alarm, most bands should pause for thought before taking the plunge. King Gizzard aren’t most bands, however. Now a decade into their recording career, ‘Omnium Gatherum’ is the group's 20th studio release, the past three created despite a global pandemic. When it comes to contemporary acts who have the ambition and scope to earn a double album, you can’t go wrong with these tireless Aussies. Still, the keywords for such an endeavor are always balance and variety, and at 80-mins in length, this latest psych odyssey almost matches the Pumpkins’ ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness’ in runtime.
So, have they delivered? The answer is a resounding yes.
First conceived as a mix of unreleased songs that had never found a home on previous albums, the first recording sessions as a full six-piece band post-lockdown soon snowballed into something far grander. The end result is tonally similar to a greatest hits set, each song tackling one of the numerous genres King Gizzard has absorbed themselves in over the years. Considering the staggering amount of output and unexpected global success the group has garnered this past decade, now is as good a time as any to reflect on their talents. For the uninitiated who’ve always pegged the band as simply some madcap garage-psych outfit, ‘Omnium Gatherum’ proves just how broad a musical spectrum these lads can handle.
While previous albums have seen the group focused on trying a new sound or theme across the board, the 16 tracks on offer here breezily jump from genre to genre. Despite its chunky length, only four of the numbers clock in over the five-minute mark. One of those, roaring opener ‘The Dripping Tap,’ nearly reaches 20-minutes, but doesn’t waste a second of it. Hands down one of the greatest tracks the group has produced, the song is bookended by some stoned soul to contrast the face-melting melee of a noise in-between. It’s high-octane psych at its best, the band firing on all cylinders with drums, guitars, bass, and harmonica trying to reach light-speed.
The following, ‘Magenta Mountain’ wouldn’t be amiss on a Tame Impala album, its synth-led pop groove acting as a soothing balm after the opener’s intensity. Elsewhere King Gizzard enters Beastie Boys territory on the infectiously fun ‘Sadie Sorceress’ and ‘The Grim Reaper,’ these rap tracks also sharing unhinged DNA with recent Jack White material. Fans of 2019’s thrash throwback ‘Infest The Rats’ Nest’ will get their metal fix thanks to the guttural ‘Gaia’ and brooding ‘Predator X,’ both worthy of a good headbang.
‘Candles’ has the band lazily drift into the world of late 90s chillout, the likes of Morcheeba or Zero 7 filtered through the prism of 60s loving reefer fiends to great effect. Proving they truly understood the assignment, ‘Omnium Gatherum’ finishes with a dreamy coda, as all good double albums are want to do. ‘The Funeral’ makes a perfect closer, middle-eastern guitar flourishes, and shuffling drums see the band drift off into the ether, probably to return in about 5 months with something new up their sleeves knowing them.
Overall, King Gizzard’s first stab at a double album weirdly acts as a great introduction to the band. For those who, understandably, feel a bit intimated by the band’s ever-growing back catalogue and constantly shifting styles, ‘Omnium Gatherum’ is a phenomenal entry-point to ‘the Gizzverse.’ It’s a mammoth yet approachable set, an all-killer no-filler release that may just stand as the best thing King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard have ever released. This is a band, ten years into their career, still at the height of their powers, rejuvenated and ready to show the world that you still can’t second-guess them.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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