Review Summary: A little spit polish.
It has been 4 years since the release of Uroboros
in its original entity. As pretentious as the concept maybe, the band consider this album to be their finest work to date, but felt that the final product of the 2008 version needed some tweaking to reach the band's complete satisfaction. Uroboros
is one of my favourite albums of all-time and being that Uroboros was the album that introduced me to DIR EN GREY I was a little apprehensive about this re-release. These types of releases tend to have minimal effort or work put into them, and by design are created to squeeze a quick buck out of the fan. This one however is a rare exception, with enough additions and work put into it to justify giving it another spin.
The most noticable change on the R&E is its overhauled production; despite the 2008 versions flawless songwriting -- which masterfully blended doom, metal, funk and progressive styles together -- Uroboros
' handicap was the poor, muddy sound that left certain things out of earshot, with the styles mentioned never really blossoming because of it. The band have clearly seen this as the album's biggest drawback and have given the production a complete rework: from the moment "Vinushka" kicks in you'll notice a drastic improvement in clarity and how much more tracks benifit from this sort of production. Make no mistake, everything sounds crystal clear, the drums in particular are crisp and vibrant, but every instrument is well balanced and listening to it, headphones or not, you can hear the countless layers the band have created; layers that will take several listens to uncover for yourself.
Aside from the fantastic new clarity, the band have also added a couple of tracks, as well as extending a couple of them too. "Sa Bir", the opening track to this epic album, has been expanded by an extra 1:52. The track begins with mumbling chants and electronic ambient swishing noises that stir until the sound of a clock begins to tick and chime before going into its orginal composition; the additional time paints an even darker, more disturbing picture and sets the tone perfectly before "VINUSHKA" kicks in. "Hydra-666" is a remake, or "reimagining", of what was originally on their sophomore LP, Macebre
. The song has all the modern day traits you've come to expect from the band and is a great addition to the band's canon. I really like this track but, to give criticism, this track breaks up the cohesive atmosphere and sound the band create so well here. It's more akin to Dum Spiro Spero
than Uroboros, and stands out a little red from the rest of the album. "BUGABOO RESPIRA" is the least interesting of the new tweaks here: a very intimate, claustrophobic track that has just Kyo singing; it's a very raw and honest track, you can here all the sounds in the booth as he's singing. The problem is it literally feels like an extention of "Bugaboo" than its own stand alone song. It does, however, line-up Bugaboo really well.
All-in-all, the fine tweaking has paid off in spades. Obviously the biggest praise goes to the great new sound, that really lets the songs shine, but the extra little eggs they've throw in certainly make this the definitive version. Credit is also due for picking the Japanese versions of "Glass Skin" and "Dozing Green" over the English versions (which also left the original feeling a little up and down when crossing the language barrier) as it just makes the album flow that little bit better.
It's well recommend you check out this version. If you enjoyed the 2008 version, but felt the same about the flaws highlighted in this review, you'll definitely want to check this out -- you won't be disappointed. If you've never checked out the band or this album, there is no better place to look than here. Uroboros [Remastered & Expanded]
really is the band's magnum opus, and even though they've gone on to make superb albums since, this is the band at their finest.