Love Letter to Metal: A Review of PetroDragonic Apocalypse

A new high-concept heavy metal album from King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, how does it hold up?
Love Letter to Metal: A Review of PetroDragonic Apocalypse

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard make music. They dabble in everything from garage and prog rock to psyc, jazz, blues, and pop. They are some weird, twisted people, even for Australians. And yet if I had a nickel for every time King Gizzard wrote a high-concept heavy metal album about the end of the world due to ecological collapse. . . I’d have two nickels. 

Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it happened twice right?

The first of these was dropped in 2019: the heavy thrash-throwback Infest the Rats Nest recounted an environmental disaster, and our flight to the stars to escape. Four years later King Gizzard would revisit their brief metal stent to give us a story about humankind and planet earth, but with “witches and dragons, and shit.”, according to the lead vocalist Stu Mackenzie.

Enter PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation.  Where in Rats King Gizzard tapped into the sound of early stoner metal like Black Sabbath and Motörhead, on PetroDragonic King Gizzard ages up with their influences, with sounds akin to that of Metallica or Tool.

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As a concept album, Petrodragonic Apocalypse tells a cautionary tale of what unchecked environmental mistreatment could do to the world, alongside the classic King Gizzard goofiness written all over it.The first track Motor Spirit explores a society zealously obsessed with oil, gasoline, and the combustion engine.


Just imagine Gizzard wrote the Mad Max universe into the story, and you have a pretty good idea. The people call for action, to, in so many words “Summon forth thy motor spirit, drink the fuckin’ gas and killeth!”

The track drops with power on the LP, setting an immediate tone for the kind of head banging you will inevitably participate in. Stu voices these riders with intensity: a vulgar vocal delivery likely roughened by the “Bloody stool . . . Sniffing, huffing ethanol” going on. Religious iconography molds itself to the new metal church: Gas as their holy water, Isaiah’s Light becomes the fire, the Motor Spirit is god, death, and passion in one.

In the end, devotion to the machines only serves to destroy nature, and the ecosystem reaches its snapping point. Massive storms ravage the planet, and its people desperately abandon their industrial gods in favor of magic to “Banish the hellish nightmare”. PetroDragonic hits its peak with the dual entries of Witchcraft into the first single Gila Monster. Stu exits his role of the 70 year chain smoker, fully embracing the occult in his lyrical silliness. 

“Chanting songs above the lyre . . . A Bible burned with aerosol . . . cat, black — knocks the candle from the scripture stack”

Those aren’t cherry picked lines either, the whole album is written like that. PetroDragonic is incredibly self indulgent in its silliness, often to the point of absurdity. But in context of the music it’s paired with, it doesn’t feel condescending or stupid really. It is more like a joke played by the band; you can almost feel Stu elbowing your side at every Gizzard trademarked WOO, wiccan, and harmless skink mentioned.

As Witchcraft comes to a close, a small lizard interrupts the ritual, causing the incantation to backfire. The air ignites, and the harmless creature grows immensely and vastly in size, nasty riffs build from all sides, as the giant killer Gila Monster takes form!

It’s the best track on the album without question. An epic 45 second opening riff leads into the attack on the coven, kaleidoscopic synths chiming throughout. Some criticize musicians for repeating the title in the lyrics, lazy songwriting they say. Gila Monster eats the witches, big whoop. However it does it with an energy, there are a couple songs by most bands that when played at a club or in a pit will get the entire crowd echoing the lyrics. There are few things more ecstatic than belting out “Gila, Gila, Gila!” with the band, and that joy is why I hold it in such high regard.

The Gila Monster is an actual species of venomous lizard native to the southwestern United States. Photo taken from 9News.

The song rides out the hype on a bass heavy solo as the riffs fade into the last part of the album. An eighteen minute symphony as the Gila Monster, fueled by magic and gasoline, grows wings and becomes a massive fire-breathing Dragon, and ends all life on the planet. Dragon, the track not the monster, should be prefaced by this quote from the band:

“We wrote a song a day, and we came into the practice space with no riffs, no tunes, no ideas, and started from scratch. And we jammed, and recorded everything, and pieced the songs together from that,”

This short schedule really shows on this latter half of the album. Gila worked perfectly since it only really ran for three minutes. Dragon, along with Supercell and Converge from earlier on the album, suffer by needing to stretch their budget to nine, five, and six minutes respectively. Lyrics repeat, long orchestras drag, Tchort and Wrought simply don’t rhyme.

There are quality parts in there with some of the best riffs on the album. Speaking in Latin part is a really cool concept, but it is not enough to fill a nine minute track nicely.

Thankfully Flamethrower picks up the slack. It does a really unique thing: I love the deep growling pressure of death metal vocals, and I adore the slick flow of sludge metal instrumentals, but you rarely get both at once. Flamethrower is one of the only times outside something like early Mastodon to pull with style, and it runs for nearly ten minutes? Yes please give me more!

Petrodragonic Apocalypse is a great album that should be listened to with a trigger happy skip button. It’s as heavy as you can get, intentionally hilarious, and a great time. If you need a quick rating, have a 7.9/10 with an asterisk denoting that complicated 2.1 I needed to dock.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have proven themselves a jack of all trades. In the four years since they first dipped their toes in metal, they have truly made the sound their own. In a time when so many artists live in the shadows of the greats, Gizzard deconstructs their sounds not to copy, but to build something unique. They perfected psychedelic rock in Flying Microtonal Banana, flexed their concept album capabilities in Murder of the Universe, and I for one am proud to call King Gizzard masters of heavy metal.

Interior art of the band, Stu in the middle, from the Nonagon Infinity vinyl.

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About the Contributor
Sam Meine
Sam Meine, Writer
I am currently a part time, attempting to be a maybe not full but at least more dedicated, writer for the North Star. I am mainly an entertainment writer and reviewer, and have won a Blue Ribbon prize for one of my pieces. If you want somewhat of an opinionated look into news that basically only caters to me and my interest, well then you have come the right place haven't ya?

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