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Dir En Grey - Dum Spiro Spero CD (album) cover

DUM SPIRO SPERO

Dir En Grey

 

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4.50 | 7 ratings

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WindKun
5 stars --Dir En Grey-- DUM SPIRO SPERO (translation: "While I breathe, I hope")

Introduction to the bands sound, my over-all history and opinion while entering Dum Spiro Spero ("While I breathe, I hope")'s listening experience.

Part 1: What to expect by now from Dir En Grey

Imagine a young (Elf / Rainbow) era RONNIE JAMES DIO, or a young IAN GILLIAN. Imagine the soothing voice these vocalists bring in the higher pitch range (Imagine Dio's singing for "Happy" off of the Elf Album Carolina County Ball, or his Roger Glover and friends project "Butterfly Ball" -songs like Homeward and Sitting in a Dream-. twist those two legends together; throw in the high pitch avant-garde wailing of DIAMANDA GALAS (perfect comparison, just imagine the voice from a tiny, thin, young Japanese man). Already we have a vocal pallette that most people dream of having, and we the comparisons are not finished. In the heavier moments we are Reminded of singers like Mikael Akerfeldt (Often Kyo's Death Metal low Growl seems even more brutal and haunting), With High Pitched Death Metal Screams as well, on the vein of Devin Townsend to the extremes of Varg of Burzum. Screaming to beautiful operatic singing in the vein of Hansi Kursch change all within one sentence of words; while changing to almost a completely different singing style or genre every 2 or 3 words sometimes.

100% of "Kyo"s vocals are MIKE PATTON smothered; you can tell Kyo is a large PATTON fan, and while I love the both of them as musicians, songwriters and singers equally I have to agree with All Music's Review of "Uroboros" where the reviewer states " this is a step onto the plank hanging over the abyss, but with Kyo's wildly varying vocal styles (Mike Patton has nothing on him)" - All Music Review

Dum Spiro Spero is the least straight-forward of any Dir En Grey recording, in 2008 they graced us with an Opeth obliterating masterpiece "Uroboros", and after being a fan since 2001 when the beautiful ballad "Aint Afraid to Die" was released and then the experimental album "Kisou" sealed the deal with Withering To Death being the "This is one of my the most brilliant and original bands of modern Metal" release of the bands Career - Afterwards the next two albums climbed up in Ambition wether it was to be as Brutal and Unique as possible with "Marrow of a Bone" or to set a sonic landscape in the first mentioned "Uroboros" taking the best of Mr. Bungle, Opeth, Katatonia, Porcupine Tree, Rush, The Gathering, along with the progressive virtiouso performances of Dream Theater but to a different degree (Instead of showing it off in unison solo's it is the structure and small portions and solo's that show the band's amazing Progressive talents.)

Part 2: The Talent, The Band, The Masters, The Pioneers.

Kyo ? lead vocals, lyricist, (some) Rythem Guitar and Piano / Synthesizers (age 36)

Kyo's singing is considered a pivotal aspect of the band, and he has gained recognition for his distinctive vocal work and for his large range and versatility, being able to "howl, croon, emote cleanly, scream, shriek, growl, bellow, and make nearly inhuman sounds", and he has been compared favorably to singer and avant garde metal musician Mike Patton In their review of Uroboros, Sputnik Music says only of Kyo's singing, "I challenge you to find one singer in any genre with more range than this guy." Kyo really makes Dir En Grey blow us away with the direction of the sound, the delivery and the powerful dark lyrics based off (For Dum Spiro Spero) the growing disgust of Japan's Government and the general consensus of Japan / Pop-Culture along with as usual underlying personal themes.

Kyo is well known in the heavy metal scene as one of the most versatile vocalists currently active. His singing alone is impressive however this is not where his strength as a metal vocalist lies. He has throughout his career as Dir En Grey's vocalist displayed some of the most goose bump inducing screamed vocals, Deep Gutteral death growls,dblack metal-like "shrieks" to a Faith No More style "Bepop / Rythem Lyrical Delivery".

Kaoru ? guitar, backing vocals (age 38) Kaoru is responsible for 90% of the actual instrumentation writing of the songwriting process, while the other guitarist "Die" has collaberated on a more equal level the past 2 albums the band has always been lead by Kaoru's unique blend of styles and riffing with perfect tone. He is backed by ESP guitars and plays endless models along with having over 5 handcrafted customized ESP Guitars that ESP provided to him for Specific Songs / Albums - One of the ESP guitars is purchasible by consumers in the vein of the "Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass" or "Kurt Cobain Fender Jagstang" He performs the Majority of Guitar Solos for the band (Although Die often Follows in Unison), which vary strongly in feeling and tempo, similar to his compositions. Kaoru uses guitar amplifiers by Diezel and cabinets by VHT.

Die ? guitar, backing vocals (age 38) the second most credited composer within Dir en grey (atleast until the album Vulgar, afterwards the band stopped using Individual Credits per song) He writes in a more up-beat or guitar groove oriented fashion compared to Kaoru. Tracks for previous albums such as "Mr. Newsman" had been written by Die. Endorsed by ESP same as Kaoru, he is also Endorsed by ESP with two signature guitars on sale for consumers. His contribution to the band is equally as important as Kaoru's just in different musical spectrums. Extremely Talented just like every member of this band. It is a super group for sure.

Toshiya ? bass, backing vocals (age 35) Dir En Grey's Bass Tone always stood out for me as Bass is one of my favorite instruments; The mix of the bass in the music is never lost (Think Dream Theater's Music Engineer jobs on 90% of the bands material... barely hear the bass!!) Toshiya is an exceptionally skilled bassist in many genre's and displays fusion of Jazz "Walk Bass Lines, Funk, Power Metal (5 finger gallops or tri finger triplet gallops), and often plays 4-5 fingered chords on bass during songs and lets the resonance ring out. Emdorsed by ESP, Rickenbacker, Killer and also often uses Gibson and Fender P-Bass's during the recoridng phase and touring phase.

Shinya ? drums, percussion (age 34) In my opinion the second most important and mind blowing member of Dir En Grey. Shinya's Drumming can easily be compared to many talented metal drummers or more in the right direction Progressive Metal Drummers; he has all the skill tool-sets to blow your mind with his chops while keeping a groove that is mesmerizing - never enters the "Drummer Prog Jizzle" territory that Prog bands often over-endorse in the drumming of too much technical hi-hat trickery or fills that are not difficult from a Music Theory aspect but seem impressive listening (think Mike Portnoy, Impressive playing but far too much.... BS that isn't a drum groove for the song to rest on) - Shinya is always drumming with an edge creating some of the most interesting drum grooves, most complex (Math Metal style) Drum Fills and Blast Beats - The most UNDER-RATED Drummer in the Prog / Art Metal Genre.

Part 3: --REVIEW-- "While I Breath, I Hope" Dir En Grey - Dum Spiro Spero Before entering into the sonic landscape that is Dum Spiro Spero (While I Breath, I Hope) take in account that this album is unlike any other Dir En Grey album but contains all of the elements that you are familiar with, and expands upon the previous ideas along with stretching into new territory. If you are not familiar with the band this may be a perfect place to dive into the band and see if you dig them; this is if you are looking for more Atmospheric sounding albums, if not I suggest you start with Uroboros. - if you are just looking for a straight "Death Metal" type album then go one more back in the discography to "Marrow of A Bone". With that cleared up lets hit back on how I started this review comparing Kyo to a young RONNIE JAMES DIO or IAN GILLIAN!

The intro song starts with gorgeous piano played in fast haunting arpeggio's and evolves into an odd bubble of despair via sound - Screams with no lyrical meaning but artistic / emotional meaning are layered upon eachother in a rather hauntingly chaotic intro that goes right into The Blossoming Beezlebub which is an excellent longer track at 7:35 displaying the range of Kyo's singing and the band's range of endless Genres'. While after the song is over you may think you have an idea of what the album has in store for you - you would be mistaken as this album is song is a first taste into what is about to explode into so much more. This is artistic metal at it's absolute finest. Different Sense one of the Singles displays a shorter more radio sized song with brutality and beauty and still hasn't given a picture of what the album is although begins to set the tone a bit more.

The fourth track Amon is equally impressive but by the time you hit into the 5th and 6th track of the album is when it really all begins to come together. the 6th track Juuyoku is the perfect placement as the "just before the middle of the album" track that finally gets the albums sound into full perspective which then escalates during the near 10 minute (9:52) sonic adventure that is the Pinnacle of the album (But only if the entire album has been experienced up until this point; I promise without this experience of listening the song may seem just too far-out to get a grasp of for newcomers.

The album finishes near-flawless in terms of the strength with all remaining tracks (no track on the album is filler, boring or not in perfect flowing taste). I promise that Kyo's high pitched Reverberated "GALAS" style Wailing that is almost in every track to keep them linked together in that "Conceptual" album style; it keeps it all cohesive as the songs change or flow into each-other. The album is deeply poetic but filled with disgust for the current situation in Japan / Japan's Culture, Government, Crime, as an example On August 1, Dir en Grey released an open letter on their official Facebook that accuses the Japanese government of lying to its people and hiding the true danger of the radiation levels after the nuclear accidents caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. In October the band launched a campaign called Scream for the Truth, complete with a website and billboards hanging in Times Square in New York City, in hopes of stopping the lies and getting correct information. That alone shows the bands passion about the subject; and due to the dis-heartened feeling about all of this the album is exceptionally dark and not afraid to let you know it.

97 / 100 overall. Would receive a perfect 100 but I reserved that for Uroboros; and its not that this album is in anyway inferior, I actually find it to be Superior - but from a "Average Listener" perspective I can understand how Uroboros would be preferred as a newcomer to listen to first or even as an album that you end up giving more spin time to even if Dum Spiro Spero captivates you far more.

Give Kyo and Dir En Grey your time, and you will come back full handed, with thoughts of how you used to be empty handed. This is is perfection of a sonic style, not of one Genre but as a whole Dir En Grey has perfected a Genre of they're own (As also cited on All Music.com and many other Reviews - Dir En Grey is no longer a band categorized in a Genre; Dir En Grey is a Genre of their own.

- WindKun *Kenneth Joseph Spaziani*

WindKun | 5/5 |

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