Review Summary: A dark musical masterpiece.
Dir En Grey is a Japanese band consisting of five members: Kyo (vocals), Kaoru (Guitar), Die (Guitar), Toshiya (Bass Guitar), and Shinya (Drums). Dir En Grey was once part of the visual kei movement, doning flamboyant attire similar to the American hair metal look from the 80's, but have now adopted a more tradtional Rock eithic and sound. Their latest album, Uroboros, was released on November 11, 2008.
Uroboros opens up with a brooding introduction called Sar Bir. This introduction sets the tone for the album and gives the listener an idea of what is to come. Echoing screams fill this track as it slowly builds up into the next track, Vinushka. Suddenly, the music drops out and Kyo begins show off his vocal abilities as he whispers into the listeners ear. Vinushka is an excellent first song. Coming in at 9:32 in length, this song is a musical journey through a nightmare. The song goes through many dynamic changes, from intense riffs combined with Kyo's shrills, then to melodic whispers and slow burning guitar chugging, and back again. The song never lets the energy go and continues to push on and on, eventually climaxing with a horrific growl from Kyo.
The next song, Red Soil, opens with a quick guitar riff that sounds as if the guitar strings are about to snap off. What follows is a solid chug-heavy track that forces one to slowly move your head with the continual assault of the guitars. Kyo's dynamic range really shines on the next song, Doukoku to Sarinu; from quick spurts of words to ballad-like sustained notes to demonic growls, all within the context of a single song. Toguro showcases the guitar work of Kaoru and Die; the tone of their guitars immediately stands out vibrantly. Toshiya's bass lines also stand out amongst the array of dreamy guitars riffs.
Glass Skin, opens with a soft piano medley accompanied by Kyo's beautifully sung lyrics. The first single off the album, it really showcases the talent of all band members. Although the song is in Japanese, the lyrics are extremely catchy the the tune will stick with you. Glass Skin is a brilliant song that leads into the funky Stuck Man; employing the slap bass to add some color to the song, the song enter twines lion-like growls and funk elements to provide a unique sonic experience. Reiketsu Nariseba is by far the heaviest song on the album. The insanity comes through the use of unintelligible screams and ultra fast kick and snare patterns. The song ends with a deafening eagle shriek.
Although not all songs from the album are covered in this review, the later half of the album is even stronger than the first. The listener can really feel the coherence the band have musically. The guitars are solid, the bass is driving, the drums are raw, the vocals are outstanding.
From a production aspect, the album is a top notch. All albums come together nicely and nothing is ever over powering the other. Drum rolls come in quick and sound excellent. The dynamics of Kyo's voice are handled brilliantly; a softest whisper can be heard with clarity while the loudest shriek can be heard without any of the other instruments fading in the background.
Uroboros is an outstanding effort from Dir En Grey. The album really comes together; nothing feels out of place. Musically, the songs are complex and melodically challenging. Kyo is the highlight of this album; he delivers in every avenue of the album. Some may be turned off by the Japanese lyrics, but the emotion the music is conveying still seeps through. The listener may not understand what Kyo is saying but will still be riveted by the outstanding musicianship and the vocal performances.
A great starter for those just getting into Dir En Grey.