Die See made waves with their independently recorded and released self-titled album, which hit the shelves in 2010.
DIE SEE: Die See II (Independent)
The albulm eventually earned the band nominations for two South African music awards.
Although the band didn't win either of the Samas for best album packaging or best alternative Afrikaans album, it was a statement of intent for a band that had risen out of Pretoria with nostalgic songs about holidays at the coast.
Drawing on the American tradition of country and blues, this Pretoria four-piece sang dark, sentimental songs about the ocean, in much the same way American singer/songwriter Bill Callahan sings about rivers, the woods and eagles, and Mark Kozelek sings about death and the pains of life.
However, unlike Callahan and Kozelek, there was always the hint of a rock band waiting to break out of nostalgic confessional mode and take charge.
Vrystaat on Die See's debut album was just that song, a rollicking blues number with handclap percussion, that was a crowd favourite at many of Die See's shows in 2010.
Now Die See are back, with a new album and a new sound.
Die See are a lot darker now, a lot heavier and their new songs are guitar scorchers, not acoustic nostalgia trips.
This has probably resulted from the entire band being involved in the songwriting process from day one this time, unlike the first album, which was mostly written by lead singer Henry Ferreria with guitar flourishes added by Dylan Graham.
At Oppikoppi this year, the band launched their new album, Die See II, with a mesmerising performance.
They put the South African rock scene on notice: they were back, with a bigger, bolder, darker sound, one that embraced the fuzz-rock of Black Sabbath as much as it did Callahan.
In the studio, Die See had added a new member.
Jaco Mans, who had spent many years toiling with reggae band Tidal Waves, was all over the album, playing bass guitar, acoustic guitar, congas and adding the backing vocals.
So what can you expect from Die See II? It's a complicated, experimental record, so it's going to take a few listens to worm your way into the music, but once there, Die See II just keeps giving.
With a monster guitar riff and some psychedelic vocals, the opening track sets the scene for this new, dark, gothic and rugged version of Die See. However, the second track, Yssel, offers up some delicate acoustic guitar work that is a blend of the beauty of Bill Callahan and Mark Kozeleyk's work, with the gothic tinge of Paul Riekert's country-gothic duo, Die Menere.
Saad Gesaai starts with a gorgeous, sun-kissed blues guitar lick and some jangling acoustic guitar work from Mans. Singer Henry Ferreira's voice is in top form, very deep, but full of soul. About three minutes in, Graham comes back in with some Mark Knoffleresque guitar work to seal the deal.
The acoustic-driven instrumental, Emansiepasie, is shaded with lap-steel guitar to give the song that country feel and is reminiscent of the work of American songwriter Kurt Vile.
Oordeelsdag (Judgment Day) has some really sweaty guitar work, like Alice in Chains with Guns N' Roses guitar solos.
This band is really pushing itself.
Throughout the 46 minutes, Die See II blurs the boundaries between hard rock and country blues, creating a gothic death rattle that is uniquely its own.