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"This must be absolutely smashing live!" are the handful of words that, almost necessarily, come to mind when one’s ears are confronted to the noise-rock sonorities of Die! Die! Die! Adequately equipped with the traditional garage-rock set-up, the Dunedin-hailing lads provide angular, abrasive, shoegaze-tinged, alternative rock that isn’t averse to tasteful endeavours into melodic territory. Considering ‘Harmony’ is the New Zealand outfit’s fourth album, it should come to no surprise that their sound and songwriting have now reached such perfectly-honed levels, arguably placing the threesome on a podium of contemporary masters of the genre (fitting somewhere alongside the Raveonettes and The Jesus And Mary Chain).
‘Oblivious Oblivion’ opens to the sort of wavering noise that consistently finds itself the warm background of a large portion of their musical output. Driven by its bass, the energetic (yet measured) track introduces a lean, garage-style, approach that is considerably less effect-laden than the rest of the album, an experiment they complete with a simple Pixies-esque chorus. ‘Harmony’, on the other hand, is unrelentingly noisy and packed with enough effects to shame the Transformer movies. Effortlessly working transitions between the deceptively abrasive verse and poppy choruses, the track is a shining example of Die! Die! Die!’s ability to meld sweet melodies with the somewhat uninviting surface of noise-rock to great effect. It is joined, to similar success, by ‘Trinity’, and downright superb closer ‘Get Back’, which successively provides all of the album’s most visceral wall-of-noise moments.
However, lovers of the rougher end of noise rock FEAR NOT! The band do provide a couple of fine moments of caustic rock, as is the case on ‘Erase Waves’, its guitar scratching and screeching to the beat of tribalistic drums. ‘No One Owns A View’s energy thrives on angles and leaping vocals, as well as the unconditional support of an emphatically dirty bass. The real, yet not unwelcome surprise, comes courtesy of ballad of sorts ‘Seasons Revenge’. Indeed, amidst the controlled cacophony, Die! Die! Die! tone up the melody in order to accommodate the unusually touching character of the lyrics, without falling into pathos.
‘Harmony’ (the album), is another step forward away from the narrower hardcore approach of their beginnings toward an alt-rock experience that encompasses everything from gravelly noise to engrossing melodies, and all the space in between. Comfortable with experience, Die! Die! Die! appear to have nothing left to learn, yet their sonic exploration suggests a healthy curiosity, resulting in the admirable variety on display. Noise/shoegaze/punk/rock/whatever concoctions don’t really fit in the most accessible end of the musical spectrum, but this New Zealand lot are putting in a huge shift toward making it a more attractive affair.
'Harmony' by Die! Die! Die! is released on 1st April on Smalltown America.
Words by James Berclaz-Lewis (@swissbearclaw)