It’s a truly rare occasion when I’m given the opportunity to hear a band when it’s in its infancy. But when I do get a chance to catch a group in their green moment before fame, it does my heart so much good. Such is the case with punk band DIEALRIGHT.
Having officially debuted in August of last year, DIEALRIGHT is hot and heavy, a piece of pure punk that harkens back to times when the genre was in full-out rebellion. When punk came onto the scene kicking and screaming, it was spitting at everything considered mainstream and acceptable. Though we saw a bit of that spirit in YERY Band and its spitfire leading lady, that band’s brand of punk has always been slightly pop flavored. DIEALRIGHT takes the pop out of the punk and leaves the music raw, uncut, and frighteningly open.
Lead singer and guitarist Chae Sung-hwa leads her trio with fearlessness, gritting her teeth and chewing on the sound, letting the powdery residue of its bones fester on her tongue, only to spit it out at our feet and dare us to recoil. She’s a powerhouse who doesn’t have time for pretty. She’s punk through and through, obviously taking her cues from Chrissie Hynde and Joan Jett. She’s sex and sweat, a feral combination of her natural sensuality and all the bravado of an arrogant playboy, and that makes her band that much more powerful.
Meanwhile, drummer Baek Soo-jung thumps out a rhythm that gives DIEALRIGHT a backbone made of steel. Taking inspiration from the likes of Meg White and Gina Schock, Soo-jung keeps time like a warrior. She’s more than just a drummer. She gives DIEALRIGHT its heartbeat, leaving the sound in your chest, making every listener get the steady punch of it deep in their guts.
The only male presence in the group, bassist Kim Seung-il anchors the band, keeping in perfect synch with Soo-jung’s drumbeat and the crunching cadence of Sung-hwa’s voice and gritty guitar work. With his steady precision, the music not only pulsates with a beat, it throbs with a naughtiness reserved for private matters.
It’s this combination of grit, sex, and rock & roll that makes DIEALRIGHT’s debut self-titled mini-album all the more impressive. The very first song makes you sit up and take notice, the throaty growl of Sung-hwa’s guitar at the beginning and the teasing dance of Soo-jung’s cymbals leading listeners in and refusing to let them go for the duration of the album. As Sung-hwa spells out the band’s name in perfect harmony with the drumbeat and Seung-il’s pulsating bass she poses a challenge to the listener — “Here we are. If this is too much for you, there’s the door.”
Lead single “Satellite” is the perfect means to establish the band as the genuine article. They’re not a punk-flavored bit of pop parading as something more. DIEALRIGHT is a sinister and unrepentant punk band, pure in intention and delivery. The point is driven home with the final song on the EP, “Hello.” This cheeky piece of irony left for the final note on the album leaves the perfect lingering buzz in the ear that makes one eager for more.
The recent release of songs “Mad Queen” and “Hunt” further impresses upon any listener just how raw the band is. Sung-hwa’s rebel screech and wail is a twist to the spine, a sound that’s completely unfettered with any of the prettiness most would expect from female leads. “Hunt” sounds just as what the title suggests. These are musicians on the hunt for fresh meat. The sound is as much a twisted safari as it is a panty raid, making listeners tremble and quake for fear of either being sensually compromised or sought out and eaten alive, the members suckling the marrow from their bones and sipping at their sweat-salted flesh.
This teasing bit of punk doesn’t bother with foreplay; it goes straight for your senses, giving you little choice in the matter. Clocking in at just under two minutes, “Hunt” taunts and seduces. What a perfect way to start the New Year.
“Mad Queen” is unmistakably powerful. Mixed with Soo-jung’s intricate sticking, the feedback-fuzzy buzz of Sung-hwa’s guitar, and steady thrum of Seung-il’s bass foundation, the song reinforces the band’s ability to dominate your senses and leave you filthy with a need for more.
DIEALRIGHT is a picture with no filter. You see all its blemishes and humanity and must either accept the members for who they are or simply walk away and explore a softer sound that, while probably much prettier, won’t give you the gut-check or knee in the naughty bits to wake you up.