Review of Harmony Album by Die! Die! Die!

New Zealand's Die! Die! Die! are something of an anomaly. Raised on a diet of English post-punk and American hardcore, they've steadily developed into one of the most prolific acts in recent years. While their 2006 self-titled debut and brooding follow-up 'Promises, Promises' hinted at a potentially bright future, 2010's sublime third long player 'Form' heralded their arrival magnanimously. Songs like 'HT' and 'Lil Ships' highlighting the band's progress, heralding a newfound confidence and cementing their swirling guitar sound as something of a Die! Die! Die! trademark in the process. It seemed only a matter of time before they'd become household names outside of their native Dunedin. And yet for some reason, Die! Die! Die! remain relatively unknown to the masses.

Die! Die! Die! Harmony Album

So, at the fourth time of asking, 'Harmony' continues in a similar vein to where its predecessor left off. Also featuring their fourth bass player since forming a decade ago, former Mint Chicks and F In Math mainman Michael Logie. Recorded in France last year with Australian producer Chris Townend, whose previous credits include Portishead and The Violent Femmes. 'Harmony' accentuates the harsher side of Die! Die! Die!'s make-up across its ten tracks, again heavily focusing on the angular swathes of guitar and Andrew Wilson's distinctive vocals, which characterise the band.

Initially released in August of last year back home on Records Etcetera, it's taken a further eight months for Irish independent Smalltown America to license the UK release. However, it's been well worth the wait.  

Opening with the incendiary call to arms of 'Oblivious, Oblivion', also the lead single when issued last summer. A furious cavalcade of drums does battle with effects-laden guitars, Wilson declaring the record's statement of intent from the outset. The title track also follows a tried and trusted method, enticing the listener in as individual parts of the band's three-way guitar, bass and drums make-up take it in turns to hog the limelight before colluding aggressively at the song's midpoint. 

And so it continues for the duration of 'Harmony'. 'Erase Wives' pulls and pokes like an irritable Steve Albini at a folk festival. Likewise 'No One Owns A View' could be Big Black covering 'Unknown Pleasures' in a parallel universe, all gelled together by Wilson, Logie and livewire drummer Michael Prain. Structurally, most of 'Harmony' follows a similar pattern, atmospheric intros via guitar giving way to an onslaught of drums. "I wish I was someone else," spits Wilson on vitriolic forthcoming single 'Trinity', every syllable compelling, and more importantly believable. And then, just as his nervous breakdown seems complete, he announces, "I'm a changed man.." on the slightly less acerbic 'Changeman'.

Uncompromisingly brutal yet disturbingly subtle in places - check out cinematic closer 'Get Back' for further proof, 'Harmony' represents Die! Die! Die!'s most immediate collection of songs to date. 

Dom Gourlay

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