Review Summary: Unraveling in order to move forward.
As an artist, it can be difficult to really set oneself apart and be “truly original.” It’s all been done before. The riffs written, melodies sung, and rhythms played, will often be described as sounding like something pre-existing. It’s often hard to break from this bubble, but Japanese experimental giants Dir En Grey seems to have provided a sound over the years that is constantly changing and expanding, and is something that they can call their own. So why shouldn’t they release a “mini-album” of them reinventing themselves?
is an album of just that: self-reinvention. With one new track and seven re-recorded tracks taken from their earlier discography, Dir En Grey have set out to reconcile songs from the past with their fairly newly shaped sound.
Bassist Toshiya shines throughout the album, providing powerful and hard-hitting grooves that accentuate drummer Shinya perfectly. Guitarists Die and Kaoru blaze through the re-imagining of old songs, as new life is breathed into the various verses and choruses because of new solos and weaving melodies. But the most versatile member of the band, the one constantly brought to the forefront, is vocalist Kyo.
The dynamic and flowing instrumentation provides a wide canvas for Kyo to paint a plethora of emotions on; with the use of soaring melodies and guttural bellows, to tormented crooning and frantic shrieks, Kyo is the centerpiece to this formidable lineup of talented musicians. About half way through the second track and first re-recording of the album, “Karma,” Kyo belts out a bloodcurdling shriek that rivals the intensity of his shriek in the track “Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Nake De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami” off of the band’s previous full-length Dum Spiro Spero
. His range in both his screams/growls and clean vocals makes him one of the most unique and versatile vocalists in the music industry today.
Now the hard thing about re-recording songs that have appeared on a previous album is the potential creation of a dichotomy within the songs themselves. These are the same songs fundamentally, but two different versions recorded at two drastically different periods in the band’s life. One of the biggest complaints from some fans was that Kyo’s vocals in “The Final” re-recording sounded not as emotionally charged, and therefore took away from the experience of the song. While understandable, this is also to be expected. Fans looking for the same feeling in these new recordings as they were in the older versions needs to understand that this album is a band reaching back into their past and breathing newer life into some songs that they love. The old versions will never be re-created as exactly as they were because Dir En Grey is no longer that band, nor should they be.
Dir En Grey has used this mini-album to bring nostalgia on a trip to where the band is in their current state. They are looking behind one last time before blazing a trail into the exciting and unknown sonic realm once again.