The band and title have only two words, but tons of attitude. That’s about the essence of New Zealand’s post-punk Die! Die! Die!’s new release, “Promises, Promises,” which had an ’07 release date overseas but is just coming stateside, courtesy of S.A.F. Records. Every song is about the same on this record: You start with a frenetic drum beat that overpowers everything. It’s so powerful, you might swear there’s more than one set of skins here. Then, you add undermodulated, strained vocals doing combat with the unrelenting pounding—fighting to be heard above the fray. Throughout, add a guitar that seems to be a percussion instrument, hammering out nothing but riffs. At times, it’s almost frustrating because Andrew Wilson
is clearly a talented guitarist—he forces some of the oddest, most unique sounds out of it—but he rarely gets a chance to shine through. His best track is probably the title cut, where his guitar alternates between crying like a siren and pumping like a fist. But as good as the axe-work is, it just can’t compete with Michael Prain’s drum set. And I know there’s a bass in there somewhere, too, but it is often consumed in the mix. When it does bump it’s way to the top, though, it’s clear that Lachlan Anderson’s is as skilled as everyone else here.
Don’t get me wrong: This is not a negative review. A true punk band should create a wall of energy, and Die! Die! Die! accomplish that to great effect. That they are all able at times to step aside and let each other dominate is a testament to how well the band gels. This is vital, raw, D.I.Y. music by masters of their craft. Most post-punk is either overproduced to until it becomes sterile dance music (Franz Ferdinand) or underproduced so that it seems to cover flaws in the songwriting (Black Lips): None of that is true here. Die! Die! Die! strike the perfect balance between careful craft and dangerous unpredictability. Highly, highly, most highly recommended.