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Album Review: DZ Deathrays ‘Black Rat’

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on May 13, 2014

Words by Billie-Jean Bullard

DZ Deathrays, the thrash-pop duo consisting of Shane Parsons – guitar and vocals, and Simon Ridley – drums, formed in 2010 in Brisbane, Australia. Having success with their first full length album Bloodstreams winning “Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album” at the 2012 ARIA Awards, the pressure is on for Black Rat to be a success. It is the duo’s second full length album, and was created with producer Burke Reid over a two-week period, working on it till 3am in the morning some nights (or should I say mornings).

DZ have described Black Rat as “a rich, deep collection of sounds, textures and arrangements”, and they’ve definitely lived up to their word. Despite being a two-piece, they have not been constricted musically in terms of their albums sounds and texture, and this has allowed them to debut their own original sound, rather than becoming a carbon copy of similar bands like The Black Stripes, or Death From Above 1979.

If you close your eyes while listening to Black Rat, you can picture a dark lit room; full of smoke machines, the smell of beer spilt on the carpet, the taste of smoke in the air, un-made beds, dirty kitchen floors and a broken clothesline in the backyard.

Black Rat’s first song off the album is a song of the same name – Black Rat, and it showcases Shane’s talents as both a vocalist and guitarist, with harsh guitar riffs, and his use of his sublime head voice, while Simon’s simple yet strong beats create the beat that make it impossible to keep still while listening.

Starting off similar to Black Rat, is Gina Works at Hearts. A catchy tune by nature, you’ll have the song running in your head non stop for hours, as much as you will have their bizarre yet confrontational music video for the well known single in your mind.

Shane’s harmonic ooh’s create a new dimension to the song, contrasting with his aggressive vocals in songs such as Less Out of Sync, and Ocean Explorer. 

Northern Lights is introduced with Shane’s creamy vocals, and warped guitar riffs which contrast the rest of the album. While giving off a different vibe compared to DZ’s other songs on Black Rat, you can clearly hear the vulnerability in Shane’s milky vocals, against his strong guitar riffs and the drummer magic performed by the one and only Simon.

The techno loop at the beginning of Fixations emits a sci-fi feeling, different to their other pure thrash-pop-punk material. The song carries on with a simple 3 note guitar riff, and a strong bass beat carried throughout, which is like many of DZ’s songs except if something’s not broken, why fix it?

This is what I love about DZ, that their songs can be structured the same way, but all song completely different, which is quite hard for an artist to pull off, and they definitely pull it off.

It is this, and many more reasons why Black Rat is currently ‘Triple J’s Album of the Week’.



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