Released: Aug 3, 2011
Genre: Deathcore, Progressive Metal, Experimental Metal
Label: Firewall Div./SMEJ
Number Of Tracks: 14
Each of their albums has been different from it's predecessor; different, but still Dir En Grey. Their eighth offering, "Dum Spiro Spero", is certainly no exception to this rule. It's a strong offering from Dir En Grey and probably their second best album to date.
Dum Spiro Spero
Vinushka, on august 05, 2011 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Dir En Grey have always been a band that have moved forward. They have evolved naturally over their long career and it shows. Each of their albums has been different from it's predecessor; different, but still Dir En Grey.
Their eighth offering, "Dum Spiro Spero", is certainly no exception to this rule. One of the strongest aspects of Dir En Grey's music is undoubtedly the atmosphere they create. It's often creepy, aggressive and psychotic. Everything about them is dark, vile and tinged with a sense of perversion. This kicks off well with short instrumental opener "Kyoukotsu No Nari", which features jarring scare chords and creeping fuzz. The tone is continued throughout "The Blossoming Beelzebub" a long, slow song dripping with tension and dread. "Different Sense" the band's latest single, sees them at their frantic, schizophrenic peak.
This is a very cohesive album, the overall tone rarely falters though I don't feel it boasts as much variety as 2008's "Uroboros", which saw them at their creative and most progressive. With "Dum Spiro Spero" I feel the sound has been more refined, which is both a good and bad thing. With a length of a little over an hour, this album is more like a frantic, terrifying rollercoaster ride. There may not be as much experimentation, but the result is still satisfying. There are songs which shine, such as the constantly shifting "Diabolos" and the final two songs "Vanitas" and "Ruten No Tou".
One criticism I would lay on this album is the lack of memorable riffs. Dir En Grey have ventured into Deathcore territory a little, with Drop A tunings and the use of 7-strings on some songs and I feel their guitar work as suffered because of it. The interplay between guitarists Kaoru and Die has always been a major focal point for me, but it is sadly lacking from some songs on this album.
On the other side however, bass is well mixed and satisfyingly rumbly, shining on tracks like "Amon" and "Lotus". Drumming is, as always, stellar and frenetic. Finally the vocals are once again brilliant. There is constant debate over singer Kyo's abilities. While he has lost the purity he had on earlier recordings, he has gained incredible aggression and still maintains an excellent range from grunting, growling, screeching and clean singing. In some songs such as "Lotus" and "Different Sense" the vocals are multi-layered, a nice touch which adds an extra dimension to the music.
The album is very well produced, with everything brilliantly mixed. Every intrument can be picked out with ease and manages to find it's own space in each song. // 9
Lyrics: Dir En Grey's lyrics are always hard to write about since they're either completely in Japanese or in such intelligible Engrish that they can't be understood. I've always taken the time to look up English translations for my favourite Dir En Grey songs and Kyo does write some superb lyrics, though some of the charm and subtlety is lost when translated.
The thing I've always loved about Dir En Grey is that you never need to speak Japanese to understand what Kyo is saying. As stated above, the music is all about the atmosphere and when he's screaming his guts out or belting out haunting clean choruses, it's pretty safe to say he's not singing about sunshine and rainbows.
I've often heard it said among fans that the reason they love Dir En Grey is because, in not understanding the lyrics, they can ascribe their own meaning to the songs. In many ways, I think this helps the listener appreciate the songs as a whole, rather than being distracted by lyrics or a message. To non-Japanese speakers, Kyo's voice serves very much as another intrument.
His vocal skills, as stated above, are excellent, plain and simple. I couldn't name another vocalist like Kyo, much like I couldn't name another band like Dir En Grey. // 10
Overall Impression: Overall, I'd say "Dum Spiro Spero" sits below "Uroboros", which was undeniably their magnum opus. It lacks the experimentation and the subtlety of it's predecessor, but provides a more focused experience. Every song on this album sticks out, which isn't something I can say about any of their previous releases. Upon my first listen I was disappointed and felt they'd eschewed creativity completely, but upon subsequent listens, I found the differences begin to creep out at me and already I've started picking out favourites.
I don't like how the guitars have taken a back seat, demoted to muted chugging for the most part, but at the same time they shine in ways they never have done before. Solos are one good example. They won't satisfy any hardcrore Malmsteen fans, but it's something they haven't included since the days of their first and second albums and it adds a dimension to "Dum Spiro Spero" that was otherwise lacking from previous releases.
Standout tracks are "The Blossoming Beelzebub", "Different Sense", "Diabolos", "Vanitas" and "Ruten No Tou". I don't feel there are any particularly weak tracks on the album. Some that don't stand out as much, certainly, but each is unique and adds to the whole in it's own way.
In summary, I am very pleased with "Dum Spiro Spero". It's a strong offering from Dir En Grey and probably their second best album to date. Tied in many ways with "Uroboros", but the lack of variation and interlaced guitar work lets it down. It is still an excellent effort, adding elements where it takes others away. Dir En Grey's genre has always been hard to classify, they have some Deathcore elements, but they are blended with a hundred other influences that they are neither obnoxious nor clich. There's some pregressive metal here, some gothic rock, a little bit of everything. That Dir En Grey are able to blend these elements together so seamlessly and create genre-defying music speaks well of their skill and creativity as a whole. // 9
Dum Spiro Spero
dr-g0nz0, on august 22, 2011 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Dir En Grey's eighth studio album is now avalible, after 2008's massively successful, "Uroboros". I've been listening intently to this album solid from its release, with my first listen to it I was left with a scrambled brain and left exausted by how chaotic and messey it was - it's no easy listen by any means, it takes a solid few listens for you to digest it all. In my eye's a hard-to-listen-to album is money well spent, it's probably taken me about 8 listens to get to the stage I am now where I can write a review and say that it is a very good album, indeed.
If you were to be harsh on this album - or only listened to it a couple of times - you could just call it a one trick pony - this would be wrong though, because even though, yes, it does keep to the same evil grunting metal pace almost all the way threw the album, it still brings a little bit of the variation "Uroboros" brought you.
It's one of them albums that starts off with you cussing the band for burning you with such a mess, let it sink in a few times and you'll relise there is alot more to the album than first thought. You'll notice little bits here and there that make you relise just how great the songs are.
The singles pretty much sum up what the album will sound like: "Different Sense" being a balls-to-the-wall metal track, where it leads to a great melodic chorus and a bitchin' solo; "Lotus" is one of the few mellow tracks, and is easily the one you'll attach yourself to at first, for being easily accessible and "Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No" - being my favourite single out of the bunch - being just as heavy and fast as Different Sense, only it's fast and heavy threw-out. Basically, to summize the singles, you get two heavy and one fast, that's basically what you get with the album, with ever easy accessible song there is 3 others that are heavy as sin and hard to get into. The rewards for sticking with the album though, are well worth it though and it's definitely a strong sounding album. // 9
Lyrics: As with every Diru review I do, there isn't alot I can say about the lyrics. The lyric booklet translations leave much to be desired. However, what people can relate to is Kyo's amazing voice. A personnal opinion here is that I felt Kyo didn't use his voice to quite the epicness he has done in the past. That's not to say his voice isn't amazing on this album, but there are less tracks where you go, "wow, Kyo just blew my mind with that bit" partly down to the album going deeper into the darker side of music, so for the most part Kyo screams, grunts, whales, etc, which isn't a bad thing, and it is pretty impressive, but his vocals don't have the same value "Uroboros" had. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall, on first listen I was disappointed, now I can say it's an amazing album, that while not their best work to-date, still provides an amazing ride from start to finish. I'm not massively into heavy, heavy music, which this very much is, but this still didn't stop me from loving it. If your a long time Diru fan that prefers the old stuff, I'm sure they'll have a thing or two to grumble about, but confident the majority of fans will end up loving it anyway. If your a newcomer, I recommend trying their other work first before venturing into this dark beast. Either way it's probably an album-of-the-year contender for me.
- "Different Sense"
- "Shitataru Mourou"
- "Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No"
- "Ruten No Tou" // 9