DZ Deathrays – Bloody Lovely
Released: 2nd February, 2017
DZ Deathrays lineup:
Shane Parsons | vocals, guitars
Simon Ridley | drums, programming
DZ Deathrays online:
“Alright, Ben. Strap yourself in because you know this journey is going to be chaos. It always is when DZ are involved. You’ve been listening to them long enough that you even remember them ~before the ARIAs~. You’ve got this. You know these two dudes consistently churn out bangers, so just go with it.”
Anybody who has paid any attention whatsoever to the hard rock scene in Australia and indeed, the world’s festival circuit at large for the last few years, know who DZ Deathrays are. Moreover, they know what DZ Deathrays are. They’re stalwarts of the scene, and with good reason. That brings us to Bloody Lovely. A name which becomes incredibly apt once you hear the weaponised mastery of their respective instruments as they use them to shred your faces.
The album opens with the foreboding ‘Shred for Summer’.
We’re greeted with the safe harbour of the perennial ringing of vocalist Shane Parsons‘ guitar, and the distant sound of Simon Ridley‘s drums; the combination is almost reminiscent of the ringing of an incessant school bell down a deserted hallway. Then suddenly! A flurry of solo cymbal crashes and a shriek, and like a supersonic fighter jet made of buzzsaws, we’re thrown into a maelstrom with the melodic-but-fuzzed-off-its-
Where it’s heading is ‘Total Meltdown’ (one of the first tracks seeded to the general population from the album). The song is the kind of party tune the boys have been cranking out for years, a certifiable banger guaranteed to further their reputation as one of the most insane live bands I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of tune built for encouraging people to do things like climb onto and subsequently jump off third-floor balconies into a swelling crowd amid a flurry of laser beams (ED: this literally happened). It’s all about rocking hard and having a fun time doing it. Mission accomplished. Each album release cycle seems to hone their sound that little bit more, until eventually you’re left with what we’ve arrived at with Bloody Lovely.
The album is replete with their trademark quasi-tribal drum and shred guitar hard-hitters like ‘Back Forth’ and ‘Over It’, sounding exactly as you would expect from the boys after their last handful of releases. There’s surf-rock inspired licks on tracks like ‘High’, the kind to make Velociraptor (their spiritual ancestor) fans proud.
Slower songs such as ‘Like People’ kick off in a manner that’s less ‘balls to the wall’ and more “sullen eyes staring at the ground”. There’s even the almost sarcastic lyrics of, ‘Feeling Good, Feeling Great’. For the most part, there’s very little in the way of reinventing the wheel here (why would they need to when the wheel has a fucking great formula?) instead they’re taking the fundamentals of the wheel and refining it, by outfitting it with sick flames and lasers and rhinoceros noises.
With that all said, a couple of tunes stick out of the mould, such as ‘Afterglow’ which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the packed festival bangers it finds itself surrounded by. Starting out with a relatively sparse restrained and slow tempo. The trademarked shrieking barks of Parsons’ vocal efforts are notably absent and instead, we’re left with an introspective sound akin to la petite mort. Throw it all in together with the usual guitar effects and a peppering of programming. You’ll find yourself in a strange place between wanting to rock out and wanting to cry.
The album closes out with the jam ‘Witchcraft Pt. II‘, a perfect bookend for the half-hour before it. It’s a hard to define song, invoking a combination of misspent summer nights, low-budget horror film sound effects and wild wolves playing the Monster Mash, all distilled down into some kind of aural elixir filtered through a screaming amplifier at a street rave. That is, right up until the dying minute, when suddenly the wave of noise is gone, and in its place, there’s a delicate cadence and an almost-acoustic riff instead. It’s the exact opposite of what it was like to be trapped in the wave of noise before it, but it doesn’t feel out of place.
On the whole, it’s a more mature album than its predecessors, sure (courtesy of Black Rat veteran producer, Burke Reid). But make no mistake, DZ Deathrays haven’t forsaken their roots and grown up into some clean-cut, radio-friendly outfit. All of the attack and intensity of Bloodstreams and Black Rat is still there. The attacks, however, are more skilful and refined than before. It’s a welcome addition to a sound which otherwise can sometimes be a bit like being physically assaulted in a good way (… I assume there is a good way?).
When you find out this particular album was written by the two while being at the opposite ends of the country (Shane in Sydney, Simon in Brisbane) and in between their frankly ridiculous touring schedule at home and abroad. It makes what they’ve achieved with Bloody Lovely all the more impressive.
The biggest shame of it all is it didn’t arrive in time for the start of (as we all no doubt know by now) one of the hottest summers in the entirety of human history. I can imagine sitting in the dwindling light on a beach somewhere getting on it with your mates cranking DZ on the stezza, and it being just about the perfect environment for this album. We may not have gotten to (dare I say it? ) shred our way through summer with the sounds of Bloody Lovely, but hey, a clandestine midnight suburban house party in winter works just as well in a pinch.
DZ Deathrays – Bloody Lovely tracklisting:
- Shred For Summer
- Total Meltdown
- Feeling Good, Feeling Great
- Like People
- Bad Influence
- Over It
- Back Forth
- Witchcraft Pt. II