Artist: DZ Deathrays
Title: Black Rat
Record Label: Infectious Records
Release Date: 18th August 2014
DZ Deathrays haven’t bought into the ‘second album jitters’ it would seem. Sophomore LP, ‘Black Rat’ takes the sonic bedlam of the band’s debut record ‘Bloodstreams’ and pushes it to new levels. This is the Aussie pair propelling their own brand of thrash-pop into fresh and exciting territories. Musically, all the facets of what make DZ such a face melting prospect are present but with pop undertones that have been enhanced, as if they’ve have been subjected to several bouts of steroid injections prior to being committed to tape. Shane Parsons’ riffs pack a meatier wallop, Simon Ridley’s drumming rattles with a muscular thwack and vocally, Parsons’ has expanded his range from deathly growl to melodic trill. ‘Black Rat’ could quite well be the perfect follow up album, due to the fact it holds the same components as it’s predecessor but everything has taken a giant bound, not just in volume but in song structures, the occasional flirtation with electronics and the all-round feeling of progression.
Confidence is something that seeps from ‘Black Rat’ like a fragrant sewer – this is an album that struts with a hip-hop swagger which is evident in the springing ‘Reflective Skull’ with its beach ball bounce and elastic appeal. Opening onslaught and album title track, ‘Black Rat’ is driven by a stop start combo of razor sharp guitar slices and huge drum licks that attribute to DZ’s new found rap influence. This isn’t Parsons and Ridley going all ‘bitches and hoes’ but merely adding this layer of poise is what you’d want to hear from a duo as vital as this Brisbane pair.
‘Black Rat’ twitches and writhes with a fidgeting need to keep evolving, single ‘Gina Works At Hearts’ flits from visceral bombast to sing-a-long choruses with a sweet pop centre, whilst the explosive ‘Less Out Of Sync’ is where you recognise Parsons’ new acidic howl with a song that bursts into barrages of static moulded into a three minute pop song from a parallel universe. DZ hinted at a digital bent on ‘Bloodstreams’ and the burbling ‘Fixations’ is front ended with an electronic influence, akin to Crystal Castles dissolving into a the pair’s effects pedals.
The spectrum of which DZ are playing with has become a broad prospect, ultimately ‘Black Rat’ is a raucous trek through eardrum worrying noise but ‘Northern Lights’ shows a side to these Aussie boys we’ve not seen before. Effectively, Parsons and Ridley quit the skull rattling for one moment to produce a song that could rival Coldplay when it comes to widescreen arena rock antics. Even the band have self-proclaimed that this tune could be ‘DZ Coldplay’. Where ‘Northern Lights’ illustrates a more considered – dare we say it ‘mature’ sound – ‘Ocean Exploder’ denotes like a megaton blast. Easily the heaviest thing DZ have ever created, the way the two piece career through a bevy of twisted fretwork, massive drum beats and Grohl-style screams is mind-blowing. The riff alone is enough to make you shit your pants with glee.
Cunning, dirty as hell and curiously loveable, this is one ‘Black Rat’ you’d want to save from pest control.