Dir En Grey
Arche


4.0
excellent

Review

by Naeveo USER (1 Reviews)
December 13th, 2014 | 1074 replies


Release Date: 12/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dir en grey fuse new and old sounds, creating their best effort since Uroboros.

Japanese metal band Dir en grey has had a bit of an identity crisis ever since their arrival in America back in 2006. Withering to Death, their first album released internationally, seemed to characterize them as a "novelty" band in the Western metal music scene, a band who's only followers were die-hard J-Rock fans. Subsequent LP releases from Dir en grey saw the Japanese group ran a gamut of (metal) sounds in an attempt to firmly plant themselves as legitimate artists. This lead to some good songs, some bad songs, and some great songs. But now, after a 15-year career of constantly evolving work, Dir en grey is being pulled at all sides by fans who want wildly different things from the band. Arche is Dir en grey's attempt to please this diverse fanbase. Such an effort could have been disastrous but Dir en grey handles it exceedingly well.

Stylistically, Arche is the refined version of the softer metal sound found on The Unraveling, an EP that re-worked their older songs. This doesn't mean this is a "soft" album in any sense, nor is it as muddled as The Unraveling. Lead singer Kyo still belts an incredibly range of falsettos and death growls as the band delivers shifting time signatures and a gothic theatrical progressive metal styling (a mouthful, I know). In fact, all of Dir en grey bring their best to Arche. Kyo's vocals have never been this dynamic before, neither have guitarists Die's and Kaoru's songwriting as the three jump from ecstatic highs to crushing lows and to brief avant-garde asides seamlessly, all while bassist Toshiya and drummer Shinya effortlessly keep and set the pace in each and every song.

For once, Dir en grey is looking into the past for innovation. Arche is all about Dir en grey taking ideas from previous records, running them through a meat grinder and then tenderizing the remains into well-prepared, accessible chunks. Gone are the long opuses that characterized Dum Spiro Spero and Uroboros; every song on this album falls under the 6 minute mark. Many of the songs off Arche play with old ideas, but wisely chooses from successful ideas instead of trying to turn failed experiments into gold. In some ways, Arche feels like a celebratory look back in their career by doing so. Revelation of Mankind, the last song of the album, is similar to Clever Sleazoid as the furious album closer, except that Revelation of Mankind feels much more focused and, well, good. Cause of Fickleness carries shadows of earlier work from their second LP, Macabre. Kukoku no Kyouon is reminiscent of Ware, Yami tome... from Uroborus, but with all of Ware's "fat" stripped out. Even in looking to the past, Dir en grey still forge new sounds that are unlike previous works, with Phenomenon, Behind the Vacant Image, Kaishun being excellent examples of this new style.

For an album supposedly about the idea of pain, this is actually a very fun album. Dir en grey really went wild with what they could develop on Arche, thoroughly exploring this new, yet familiar, sound with a kind of jam-session approach to songwriting. Perhaps even a bit to wild as Arche clocks in over an hour, making it a hard album to digest as some songs blur together, especially on the first couple of listens. This scattered approach makes Arche feel much less concentrated and thematic than Uroboros or Dum Spiro Spero or anything else from their discography. This comes as a bane for many tracks in the second half of the album. For example, Midwife and The Inferno could have been cut from Arche entirely as they pass quickly and unnoticed, but work very well as stand-alone tracks. Sustain the Untruth has some odd mixing compared to the rest of the tracklist and is the album's "weakest" point, while Rinkaku sticks out as the most commercial song on a very complex album.

However, favorites and least favorites on an album like Arche will come down to personal taste. Even in the time between from my first to my most recent listening of Arche, both Sustain the Untruth and Rinkaku have grown on me, though they still pale in comparison to the best pieces. Phenomenon, Tousei, and Behind the Vacant Image are absolute highlights, with other stand-outs being Kaishun, Revelation of Mankind, Uroko, Magayasou, and Soshaku. This album runs through such variety that it has something for every metal and Dir en grey fan. Songs you may dislike at first can easily become a new favorite on subsequent listens. With Arche, Dir en grey have reconciled their past selves while still pushing forward to the future.

EDIT: Make sure to also listen to the bonus tracks off the deluxe version of Arche. Tefu tefu is an interesting track I wish made the final cut, And Zero is an atmospheric opening instrumental track that doesn't feel like filler. The live performances of Chain Repulsion and Un Deux are mind-blowing as you hear Kyo's absurd vocal range. I would have also talked about the lyrics on the album, for I find Kyo takes an interesting approach to his writing that often adds more depth to a song, but sadly they mostly still remain untranslated. What little that is out there seems very existential and concerned with identity.


user ratings (249)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Simon.K CONTRIBUTOR (4.5)
    Arche celebrates the bands 15 year career in style....

    thelocalhentai (5)
    DEG finds a great balance between their more recent work and their older JRock influenced ...

    Departures (5)
    It mostly just seems like wizardry at face value, with some understandable features for ev...

    JDane07 (4.5)
    DIR EN GREY return to top form with their most focused effort in years, while delivering a...

  • TheKleszcz (4.5)
    Diru an gurei niu arubum, at last....



Comments:Add a Comment 
Lethean
December 12th 2014


1487 Comments


how did u know

auberginedreams
December 12th 2014


6092 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"i bet this isn't very good at all and follows the ridiculous gloryhole train that this band is known to hype"



people like this! band is relatively popular! it must be bad!



+1 edginess for "gloryhole train"

GreyShadow
December 12th 2014


2060 Comments


Everyone is hyping this up. I just heard the previews and I can see why. Maybe now I can finally start getting into this band. For some reason, I haven't already even though they definitely have things that I should like

Digging: Pianos Become the Teeth - Wait For Love

Naeveo
December 13th 2014


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@GreyShadow



I encourage you to listen to this album, but if you feel alienated with "Arche" then give "Uroborus" a try. I was kind of reluctant to say that "Arche" is their most accessible album, though I do feel that, because all of Dir en grey's work is sort of inaccessible. They can be an acquired taste. At least they were for me.

GreyShadow
December 13th 2014


2060 Comments


I'm on Chain Repulsion. Definitely enjoying it a lot so far.

EvoHavok
December 13th 2014


7436 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@fti

It is very good, actually. Give it a spin.

Digging: Tribulation - Down Below

MLowend
December 13th 2014


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@TalonsofFire if you loved Vulgar you'll love this album

Gmork89
December 13th 2014


7535 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is really good, if it gets hate just because it was highly anticipated i'm gonna be pissed. They

deserve some praise for how different this is from their last album while still being so damn interesting to

listen to.

Gnome7
December 14th 2014


252 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just picked this up, gonna jam soon.

Mesm277
December 14th 2014


605 Comments


Loving Rinkaku at the moment

YakNips
December 14th 2014


18967 Comments


gotta check this

emester
December 14th 2014


8202 Comments


never really dug these guys that much but Uroboros was pretty sweet

Digging: Spectral Lore/Jute Gyte - Helian

emester
December 14th 2014


8202 Comments


listening now. this is pretty cool atm.

JDane07
December 14th 2014


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Glad to see this album trending at #3!

JDane07
December 14th 2014


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Oh, and be sure to check out the bonus disc from the deluxe version. "Tefu Tefu" is pretty cool, and "and Zero" makes for an awesome intro track to the album.

skullkrusher097
December 14th 2014


77 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Def not as good as DSS. This might take some time to grow on me, though.

Gard3n
December 14th 2014


439 Comments


I want to start with this band, but I don't know where to begin. Any suggestions?

JDane07
December 14th 2014


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

@Gard3n



If you want to be eased into their current sound, start with UROBOROS. It was, and still is a masterpiece.



If you're feeling adventurous, start from the beginning and listen to the evolution first hand. GAUZE is, to this day, one of the best Visual Kei albums I've ever listened to.



Their discography is littered with gold.

CWBrown
December 15th 2014


24 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This thing is insane. Some sort of Dir en grey's version of In Rainbows in their discography.

misho87
December 15th 2014


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My favorites are Uroko, Phenomenon, Tousei, Magayasou, Kaishun, Sustain the Untruth



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