So, King Gizz seem pretty committed to releasing those five albums they promised in January, (although I think at this pace a Christmas themed album might be a real possibility, imagine that for a moment, will you). Murder of the Universe [Heavenly Recordings] is divided up into three sections based on, quote: “three distinct, but interrelated stories,” technically making it a triple album. That said, the album is little over forty minutes long, so it is as much a triple album as War and Peace is a novella. In terms of conceptual cohesiveness, the album works in that it is heavily suite-based, driven by a steady motoric beat, blearing guitars, and that squeal that Stu is so good at. However, the narratives, broken up by spoken word interludes, seem like afterthoughts instead of central ideas properly integrated into the album. The interludes very occasionally detract from the music, they’re intrusive and can act as distractions, which is never a good thing in a concept album. This could have been three extremely good EPs if the band took the time needed to forge a cohesive narrative within the music. Instead, it comes across as a teensy bit bloated.
The narratives themselves are fine. The aesthetic is like B-movie sci-fi and horror from the 70’s and 80’s. The first section is about something called an “altered beast” (possibly a reference to the 1988 Genesis classic of the same name) chasing after somebody. This person then realises that they themselves want to become altered, and do so by merging with the beast and creating a new beast which is a synthesis of the two. Savvy. It starts off well but after about the eighth minute of hearing “altered beast” over and over it gets pretty old and stale. The second section is about this epic battle between “the Balrog” and “the Lord of Lightning” (but let’s be real, it’s Gandalf). It’s both the simplest concept and the best section of the album. The third section is about this cyborg dude who wants to die or something, who also wants to vomit. In this section, the spoken word narration is text-to-speak instead of a female voice, which makes it seem like a meme. It’s a weird situation at this point in the album, because it is unclear whether the point is the narrative or the music itself – the album seems a little confused in what it wants to give its attention to.
Murder of the Universe also takes its fair share of cues from the band’s 2016 album Nonagon Infinity, quoting riffs including ‘Gamma Knife’ and ‘People Vultures’ throughout its span. At times, Murder of the Universe seems like it could be a compilation of B-sides rustled-up from Nonagon Infinity. This comparison comes from the fact that they are using the same scales that were used on Nonagon Infinity, and that they are playing suite-based music with the same frantic energy. I saw King Gizz live both times they came to Perth last year. They played Nonagon Infinity as it appears on the album, mixed with hits off In Your Mind-Fuzz and ‘The River’ from Quarters. It makes sense for the band to have written songs that they could swap in and out of that repertoire. Yet, I still get the feeling that the band have slacked a little between this album and Flying Microtonal Banana. Murder of the Universe just isn’t as inventive or fresh as the previous three full lengths they’ve done. A clear formula has become apparent and now it is starting to wear thin on me. It occurs to me that I’ve been very critical of this album so far. To be fair, I don’t dislike it, but it could have been way better if they did almost everything different.
Words by Eamonn Kelly
This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 5 HOME.