Sound — 9
If you ask any Dir En Grey fan, he or she will probably have a hard time putting into words how many different styles the Japanese band has explored over the years. On it's latest album The Marrow Of A Bone, Dir En Grey will take you all over the place musically, but it's definitely worth the trip. The band gained plenty of exposure on the video scene when a single off it's last album (Saku) was named #1 video of the year on MTV2 thanks to it's creepy Marilyn Manson-esque quality. But the band definitely deserves attention on the musical forefront, and Marrow Of A Bone will likely prove to many that the band is just as creative musically as they are in front of the camera. The latest record starts off with a restrained, New Age-like ballad called Conceived Sorrow, which is pure and simple, a beautiful song. If you're familiar with Dir en grey, you probably know this is nothing new. But for newcomers, it might catch you off guard. Vocalist Kyo has a flawless vibrato that sounds a lot like Japanese icon Gackt (he's a phenomenon over in Japan as well, so check him out). But just as soon as you get used to Kyo wooing you with his delicate delivery, he suddenly does a 180 degree turn with the next track Lie Buried With A Vengeance, a double-bass pedal extravaganza that allows Kyo to unleash his darker side. It's a fascinating switch, particularly because he does it so well. While there are quite a few faster-tempo tracks that showcase both Kyo's screaming as well as guitarists Kaoru and Die's shredding abilities, the band takes you on yet another turn -- a jazzy one. Disabled Complexes begins with a grooving bass line from Toshiya and very subtle guitar lines courtesy of Die and Kaoru, while only a hushed vocal is heard from Kyo. The band does eventually transition into distortion-heavy guitars and a growl from Kyo, but it doesn't completely forget about the beginning portion altogether. It reverts back to the softer side every once in a while, and it's a cool contrast. Probably the main reason why the band won't ever get to be as huge as some metal bands in America is the language barrier. The lyrics are mostly sung in the band's native language of Japanese, and that may limit some listeners from getting into their songs. But considering a lot of American bands scream inaudible lyrics most of the time, it shouldn't be too much of a hindrance.
Lyrics — 8
As was mentioned earlier, the lyrics are primarily in Japanese and the translation might not be 100 percent correct. But thanks to the wonderful internet, we're able to get a glimpse into the mind of main lyricist, Kyo. There's definitely a dark side to the lyrics that matches the music perfectly. On the closing track Clever Sleazoid (which is sung in English, though you might not know it at first) Kyo sounds like he is downright possessed at points and the lyrics do a pretty fine job of fitting the over-the-top delivery. He sings, You can't save yourself; The dark, dark Sunday, the blood stains; One day I will f--k your parents. Yeah, the last line is a bit disturbing. So unexpected and disturbing, in fact, that it works. With Clever Sleazoid being so evil-sounding, in a way it's bringing the whole thing together. Another fascinating aspect about the lyrics comes when Kyo starts mixing Japanese and English together. He does this in Grief, by every once in a while saying headless body or blood tastes like vanilla. Again, they are disturbing images that really catch you off guard because you're expecting the song to only be in Japanese. While the dark lyrics might not appeal to everyone -- and might offend some -- the uninhibited song themes do go right along with the band's creepy outward appearance.
Overall Impression — 9
Dir En Grey is not for everyone, particularly those who are not into screaming or lyrics about headless bodies. However, behind the scary faade is a band that is actually very creative in it's songwriting. The band wisely uses Kyo's traditional vocal as much as the screaming, which gives balance to The Marrow Of A Bone. It will be interesting to see if Dir en grey can overcome the language obstacle to gain as many fans as the metal bands of the States. Between the band's ability to try out a wide variety of genres and its incredible musicianship, Dir En Grey should be adding more fans to its already growing fan base.