Die! Die! Die! – Harmony
New Zealand noisemakers Die! Die! Die! are unsurprisingly loud and brash in their latest release, the heavily ironically titled Harmony. Recording began all the way back in late 2010, which means these tracks have been floating around the trio’s incendiary live sets for almost 3 years now, yet they are now finally getting a proper release in the UK with independent label Smalltown America.
Fair warning, these songs are not the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday afternoon, unless you spend them messing about with heavy machinery or punching strangers in the face. Harmony’s blend of guitar abuse and rough, yelpy vocals from singer/lead guitarist Andrew Wilson will be familiar to fans of their previous three LPs, yet it feels beefier and denser than their self-titled debut, for better and for worse.
The first minute of opener ‘Oblivious, Oblivion’ is a pure endorphin rush, immediately springing a blizzard of distortion and crashing cymbals, underpinned by a thunderous bass line, on your unsuspecting eardrums. The rest of the song becomes a psychedelic wig-out, before leading into the title track. Here, the guitars buzz constantly like a swarm of angry bees over a jerky, unrestrained rhythm, before building to a gradual, but ultimately disappointing, climax.
The scratchy and hyperactive ‘Erase Waves’ evokes most strongly the Die! Die! Die! of the past, with its short running time and punchy riffs, while lead single ‘Trinity’ is all about their new, heavily post-punk influenced direction. Slowing down the tempo, and upping the melodic sensibility, Wilson’s vocals swirl and dart around like angry spirits, as he asserts “I am the one to step outside”.
The newer, denser, sound is also evident on ‘Seasons Revenge’, but unfortunately, it just serves to create an inferior, lamentable Joy Division clone, that is difficult to listen to and not at all as fun as the band’s louder moments. Likewise, both 16 Shades of Blue and ‘Twitching Sunshine’ feel bloated and unnecessarily so, as the constant whine of Wilson’s screeching guitar that fills up almost every available millisecond, suffocates any potential moment of interest.
There is some saving grace in the form of the urgent and vital ‘No One Owns a View’, which is a welcome alarm clock from the sleepy vibes of ‘Seasons Revenge’. The sinewy riffs and sarcastic delivery (“bit of paint on a shitty fence”) are reminiscent of Future of the Left at their best, while ‘Changeman’ sees the New Zealanders embracing their punk influences. The bass line could have been lifted straight from The Damned’s New Rose, while the pounding beat conjures up images of proto-punks Suicide. ‘Get Back’ offers one last squeal of ferocity and viciousness, and then it’s over.
The days of two-minute long blasts of noise appear to have fallen by the wayside for Die! Die! Die!, yet although the band have clearly matured, growing up doesn’t necessarily have to mean less fun. There is a sense that Harmony takes itself too seriously at times, and the band become lost in the peaks of sonic exploration that they’ve created, but when they nail it, it is an absolute riot.