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Album Review
Death Rattle Boogie

Death Rattle Boogie
by The Datsuns

Hell Squad Records

Review Date
19th October 2012
Reviewed by
Ricardo Kerr

The Datsuns are a band who need no introduction around these parts. The story of their journey from Trinket winning the 1999 Battle of the Bands to full-blown kiwi rock royalty has been told countless times already. Death Rattle Boogie, album number five, is not heralded with a worn out story but with a sharp kick to life – one that reminds us how vital good old rock and roll can be when done this well. This album also marks the first time that not only are the four members of the band not living in each others pockets, but they aren't even living in the same country. Singer / bass player Dolf DeBorst has put down roots in Sweden, guitarist Christian Livingstone stayed in London, while guitarist Phil Somervell and drummer Ben Cole returned home to New Zealand. It is a testament to the raw chemistry that these guys have together that you would never have guessed this record was made piecemeal over the last few years when they could manage to all come together.

The record opens with the almighty one-two-combo of lead single 'Gods Are Bored' and the barn storming 'Gold Halo'. Vintage rock collides head first with 21st century attitude and a need for faster, louder, more aggressive tunes. The solos come thick and fast, backed up as ever by booming bass lines, frantic drum blasts, and DeBorst's trademark howl. This is what we have come to expect from The Datsuns but even then the sheer energy on display is enough to make you take a step back in awe. These songs shake you senseless and recall the sheer energy and vitality of their auspicious debut album ten years ago. In fact, every single song on here is a masterclass in rock music; from the lumbering 'Axethrower', the percussion overload on 'Death Of Me', the nimble grooves of 'Skull Full Of Bone', and everything in between.

All fourteen tracks on the album are ripped through without so much as a breath taken in between. The Datsuns have always been a band who rely on momentum to overwhelm logic and infect the people with with hip-shaking, head-banging madness. A new trick in The Datsuns' playbook however is a slower, more soulful approach as shown on 'Wander The Night'. It is a smooth noir-ish piece that evokes the nocturnal cool of The Doors' 'Riders On The Storm' over six minutes. The guitars might be toned down but it is only a temporary condition as they threaten to burst free and catch fire at any minute. Phil Somervell identifies it as his favourite song on the album as it allowed them to flex some new muscles.

Due to the dispersed nature of the band these days Death Rattle Boogie was recorded all around the world, from Gutterview Studio in Stockholm to Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio here in Aotearoa. Things might have changed for The Datsuns, but it might well have been for the better if this new album is anything to go by. Time apart has allowed them to grow further as individuals and of course they are still capable of tearing the roof off when they get together. What they have made is a powerful garage rock album that transcends trends and propels the band further into the stratosphere.


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