Review of Form Album by Die! Die! Die!

With a roster that includes releases by the likes of The Chills, The Bats and The Clean, seminal Christchurch independent Flying Nun has been flying the flag for New Zealand's underground music scene for thirty years now. Indeed, despite the more renowned likes of Creation, Sub Pop and 4AD receiving significant levels of praise and admiration over a similar timeframe, Flying Nun's legacy lives on to this day, many of its pivotal artists being cited as influences by the likes of Crystal Stilts, No Age and Wavves among others.

Die! Die! Die! Form Album

Continuing with the present, Dunedin's Die! Die! Die! Have been crafting an incendiary racket of their own for almost a decade themselves. Thrown together by a shared love of European post-punk and shoegaze coupled with American hardcore and noise, it was little surprise that they managed to rope in former Big Black frontman and producer extraordinaire for their first album, also entitled 'Die! Die! Die!'. While hinting at a promising future, it bristled with a raw intensity that suggested their real strength lied in their live shows, something anyone present at 2009's raucous Great Escape performance could testify to.

That the follow-up, 2007's 'Promises Promises' seemed to steer them in a more rhythmic direction than its predecessor suggested that not only had then recently acquired bass player Lachlan Anderson added a more bass-driven sound to their already furious melodies, but that a darker angle to the post-punk vanguard they'd toyed with from their humble beginnings was about to come to the fore.

Now, with album number three 'Form' in the bag, that early potential appears to have blossomed, and how. Opening with a drumbeat akin to a salvo of machine gun fire, 'Caseman' takes their Dinosaur Jr inspired hooks into No Age territory, Andrew Wilson's distortion heavy vocals mostly inaudible, yet somehow fitting, throughout. 'Lil Ships' meanwhile takes the doom rock template employed by The Cure and The Chameleons before ripping it in two courtesy of a guitar interlude that resembles shrapnel entering a lathe. When Wilson screams, "Tell me how you sleep at night?" repeatedly like a never-ending nightmare coming to fruition, Die! Die! Die!'s intentions become all too clear.

Their amalgam of noise, post-punk and shoegaze has undoubtedly taken on a guise of its own, and despite the simple three chord frenzy of 'Howye' and discordant power pop of 'Frame' having an eerily reminiscent proximity to early Killing Joke and Six By Seven respectively, 'Form' is a refreshingly diverse collection of songs that far outweigh its creators status as merely a three-piece rock band.

'We Built Our Own Oppressors' embarks on an industrialised trawl through punk's heritage in similar fashion to Captured Tracks artists like The James while 'HT' crosses the Atlantic again before ending up in the darkened recesses of rainy Manchester, its opulent bravado conjuring up images of the city's forgotten sons like Dub Sex or Tunnel Frenzies. Even on the slightly more refined likes of 'Paquin' and 'Daze' Wilson's vocal torments and terrorises on a subliminal level.

As a result, 'Form' is a record that while disturbingly uneasy listening at the outset comes jam packed with more twists and turns than the entire All Blacks rugby team at the top of their game that should catapult Die! Die! Die! to the upper echelons of the Flying Nun hall of fame in an instant.


Dom Gourlay

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