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Dir En Grey - Uroboros CD (album) cover


Dir En Grey


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4.43 | 12 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A gem among mere rocks.

I had never listened to Dir En Grey prior to this album, although I had heard the name a few times, but never was I all that interested in checking them out. Metal bands that claim to be original are so common now, I can't waste time wading through all the duds such claims end up roping me into. In this album and band's case, however, everything positive you may have heard is true.

The most stand-out feature is of course Kyo, the lead singer/growler/screecher/voice actor of the piece. He instantly put me in mind of Mike Patton during his Mr. Bungle days, although both singers are quite distinct, the only real similarity being in their attitudes and avant-garde approach to the role of vocals. Not only can Kyo sing and growl as good as the next metal guy, he seems capable of doing pretty much anything with his voice if challenged to do so. A real master. He also plays guitars on the album, and provides just as much flare, although not quite as much originality. The two main guitarists of the band most likely pull of the more complex stuff.

The music itself is enjoyable all throughout the album's length. Instrumentation is simpler and more basic in some spots, but for the most part I found myself being surprised more times than other, more generic heavy works would have provided. In fact, I'll get to the comment I made earlier about the guitar playing. It isn't that the playing itself is completely unoriginal, it's just that when compared to his vocals, Kyo seems to take a much more traditional approach to how he approaches the instrument. That being said, I still find his riffs to be intriguing and memorable more often than not. How much of the riffs are actually played by him, however, I am not entirely sure.

Sometimes the album veers in a more J-Pop direction, but never loses the edge or originality despite this. I quite like the stark contrast between the happy, upbeat melody of the pop against the grimy, surrealistic heaviness. While not every song produces this unusual mixture, when it does happen you won't need to hold your ears. These guys knew what they were doing. I found the band's ability to blend traditional rock music with the dark, pumping experimental soundscapes refreshing and worth repeating. This album has already shot up to a frequent listening position on my playlist.

Keep in mind, this is indeed the first and only Dir En Grey album I have yet to experience. I usually try to limit myself in rating single albums in larger discographies under this circumstance, but I felt the need to give my thoughts on this release right now because nobody has really said much about them on here, and I think that's a shame. This band deserves to be listened to and reviewed by members of the site, because I do think there is a lot to love here. Granted, due to my lack of experience with previous Dir En Grey releases, I can only really recommend this single album until I lay ears on the rest.

Apparently, the group hasn't always sounded like and came out of the Visual Kei scene. How what started out as a Glam band has been able to evolve to this point, I can only speculate. But, there it is. The music contained in this release really is fantastic and really is worth your time. Sure, sometimes it can sound like something more familiar to you from the Japanese pop scene, but the next moment the experience will drag into new depths of dark experimentation. You'll find pieces in here that will remind you of the best moments of Opeth right next to other elements that might make you think more about Mr. Bungle or even Henry Cow. Yet at the same time, this album sounds nothing like any of these individually. It's a seamless melting pot of all those experimental ideas meets more traditional pop and metal. All the while being led full charge by Kyo and his amazing, ever-changing voice. A true roller-coaster ride.

As soon as I finished listening to Uroboros for the first time, I felt immediately compelled to listen to it all over again. It really is something I cannot fully describe and give justice to. You just have to hear it for yourself. Please take note, however: not everybody is going to like this. A lot of factors are against it already because of how heavy it is, and how unlike traditional Prog Rock it sounds. But for the more adventurous listener, you should have no problem embracing the music for what it is on its own merits. The softer, melodic moments feel just as valid and frequent as the psychedelic moments or heavy, experimental moments. Just because it's more Metal-oriented in general doesn't make it an album strictly for metal fans. Just try it out. I certainly consider it to be a shining gem hidden among a vast pool of dry, uninteresting rocks in the experimental Metal scene.

Brutal. Eclectic. Beautiful. 4 Stars.

JLocke | 4/5 |


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