ALBUM REVIEW: DZ Deathrays – ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’

Words by Natalie Blacklock

DZ Deathrays is a name that has been synonymous with the Brisbane music scene since the early 2010’s – chances are if you were at a house party DZ were playing! Founding members Shane Parsons and Simon Ridley (both originally from Bundaberg), cut their teeth playing in Brisbane’s own Velociraptor before forming DZ Deathrays and releasing their first EP ‘Ruined My Life’, which was entirely recorded live at one of those notorious parties. Since then, the band have come leaps and bounds – releasing their sophomore EP ‘Brutal Tapes’ in 2011 and their debut full-length album, ‘Bloodstreams’ in 2012, before really hitting the national spotlight with their blistering run of Big Day Out performances and the release of ‘Black Rat’ in 2014. More recently, the band have expanded from a duo to a trio with the addition of Lachlan Ewbank, released their own collaboration beers and wines (a Czech Pilsner, Pils n Thrills, with Young Henrys and the Positive Sparkling Cremant with Built To Spill Wine) and teamed up with legends of Australian music including Murray Cook from The Wiggles! Although the stakes are higher and the prizes are bigger now, the essence of DZ Deathrays has not changed one bit… a true DZ experience is still messy, thrashy and punky as hell – and one that the Cops may be called to shut down at any time (it sounds funny, but as rumour has it, this definitely happened more than once over the years).

DZ Deathrays are:
Shane Parsons – Guitar / Lead Vocals
Lachlan Ewbank – Guitar / Backing Vocals
Simon Ridley – Drums / Backing Vocals

Now in their 13th year as a band, DZ Deathrays have continued pushed their musical boundaries with fifth album, ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ – the long-awaited second part of their sprawling double-LP odyssey. Initially set for release in 2020, the record was put off as the world plunged into pandemic and uncertainty set in. Now, with a slew of singles already on the table, ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ casts an ominous shadow of an apocalyptic scene, as the band – Shane Parsons, Simon Ridley and Lachlan Ewbank – step outside of themselves, seek out new challenges and perspectives and survey the world from a different point-of-view. The result is game-changing, with ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ offering a hopeful resolution, bookended with glimpses of high energy, chaos, heavy riffs and a party only the DZ Deathrays crew knows how to throw! This record, although moodier than its predecessor, is a staple for both new and old fans – combining future promise and sentimental nostalgia all in one.

1. Skeleton Key
2. Fear The Anchor (feat. Ecca Vandal)
3. All Or Nothing
4. Kerosene
5. Fired Up
6. Riff City
7. Make Yourself Mad
8. Golden Retriever
9. Swept Up
10. Run The Red
11. Positive Rising

First cab off the rank is Skeleton Key, a groovy little number that highlights all the great things about DZ Deathrays – catchy lyrics, driving guitar riffs and hypnotic drums that make you want to tap along. Clocking in at just under two minutes, the high-octane Fear The Anchor follows, seeing South African-born, Melbourne-based singer-songwriter and rapper Ecca Vandal and DZ frontman Shane Parsons take on the verses and choruses together, creating a dynamic and blistering thrasher that is bound to be a live show staple for years to come.

Next up, is All Or Nothing – a track driven by classic DZ fuzzy guitar and hard-hitting percussion that sees garage-grit meeting sprawling rock goodness as the band throws down a fun reminder of the type of energy they bring to their live shows (if we still remember what sweaty live shows are anymore…). The band’s most recent single Kerosene, only dropped earlier this week, is a darker, moodier offering that revolves around a compelling chord progression, rather than the band’s signature combination of soaring guitar riffs and hard-hitting drumlines. The track is captivating and presents a different feel to the rest of the record, showing the diversity of the DZ Deathrays camp.

The first single released from ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ was stadium anthem in-waiting, Fired Up. Steeped in stirring melodies and powerful instrumentation that almost begs for a moshpit, Fired Up is just what the doctor ordered for fans struggling to shake off any remaining atrophy from nearly a year away from full-capacity live shows thanks to repeated stints in COVID-19 lockdown. Thanks to the boisterous percussion from Simon Ridley and intricate guitar work from Parsons and Ewbank, the instrumental Riff City plays out like good-natured mosh moment that begs for a thrashing and unsuspecting yet loveable punch to a fellow gig-goer. Make Yourself Mad is a statement track. It’s a raucous commentary on the role we all play in allowing the ‘media machine’ to seriously impact our mental and physical health – a reflection that’s never been truer than right now. Parsons implores action through blunt and commanding lyrics; “Get off the internet / turn down the noise / no more 60 Minutes / don’t let them have a voice”, pairing well with the elegantly brutal guitar work from Parsons and Ewbank.

In contrast, Golden Retriever showcases DZ’s lighter side, with the track driven by a summery vocal melody pinned down by overdriven guitars and booming percussion. The Joe Agius-directed music video is equally as wholesome, starring a cast of actual Golden Retrievers as audacious (and super freaking cute) studio workers directing the trio to get the most from every sound.

Swept Up enters with quite the swagger and reads as somewhat of a DZ Deathrays ‘lovesong’. The groovy melody and frontman Parsons’ sultry vocals act as a serenade as he exclaims “I wanna be your lover” – a proposition to which there wouldn’t be any objections! Penultimate track, Run The Red is really a team effort from the band, showcasing everything that makes DZ Deathrays a force to be reckoned with. This catchy, rocky number is one not to feel bad about turning up loud and playing on repeat! Closing track of the album, Positive Rising is spacey to say the least. The driving drumlines from Simon Ridley permeate the song and create an interesting juxtaposition with frontman Shane Parsons’ lyrics, which focus on a prevailing feeling of positivity “I’m hoping for a positive rising”. The extended outroduction on the track seeks to end the album on a triumphant note – drawing together the two-part ‘Positive Rising’ narrative with a climatic bang.

‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ is undoubtedly a solid effort from Brisbane’s favourite party boys, acting as a marker of growth and development in songwriting and musicianship. The album lights a fire in the belly of its listeners, planting the seeds of philosophy, independent thought and the need to challenge the status-quo through the intense post-punk riffs that DZ Deathrays are known for. ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ provides an engaging commentary on the current state of play through surreal soundscapes and solid mosh-ready moments that are still humming with life – at a time where life as we know it has already changed so much.

DZ Deathrays’ new album ‘Positive Rising: Part 2’ is out TODAY – Friday July 9th – via I OH YOU. Pick yourself up a copy HERE.


Thanks to Mushroom Group + I OH YOU

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