Sound — 7
I was pleasantly surprised by the first song, "Concieved Sorrow". The piano line was kinda Linkin Park-ish, and the song had a much more melodic vibe than anything else on the album. A dark song, maybe not quite in the same vein as anything on their older albums, but I liked it. The second song, "Lie Buried With A Vengeance", brought about the first bit of "hardcore screaming" on the album, and I can't say that that aspect of the song impressed me much, but the guitars were deliciously thrashy. Too bad that couldn't really save the song. "The Fatal Believer" had a few promising moments, but overall, fell short. Everyone knows "Agitated Screams Of Maggots". Unfortunately, a lot of the songs on the album are too close to that one. "Grief" just kinda bored me with the whole screaming/heavy guitar thing. Someone forgot to remind them that they're not System Of A Down or Korn. "Ryojoku No Ame" was another song I liked, but of course, everyone knows that. This is a re-recording, so some things sound slightly different. Fortunately, they kept that guitar solo (pretty much the only one on the album). "Disabled Complexes" was different. Started off with that quiet funk thing, then got all heavy on me. Kyo's higher vocals almost sounded ok for a change. Then he started the growling thing again. Only it kinda sounded more like someone whining. Oh, this song features a one-note guitar solo. WOW. At least the bridge kinda didn't suck. The repetition of what sounded like "Psycho Killer" at the end was ok. "Rotting Root" starts off with the best guitar riff on the album, in my opinion. Hell, it's my favourite post-Six Ugly guitar riff so far. But otherwise, the song is kinda meh. I mean, it's one of the better songs on the album, but it kinda drags on, and Kyo knows how to ruin a song pretty easily lately. If he'd just do the growling thing less often, it'd be better. I did like the harmony vocal sections, and the odd meters. Saved the song from being totally boring. The next song, "Namamekashiki Ansoku, Tamerai ni Hohoemi", is a mostly-acoustic offering. This song is already pretty much my favourite post-Six Ugly song. Starts off with a nice harmony guitar lead, and some nice bass lines, and the verses are in 5/8 time. Not too shabby. I'm glad that they were finally able to put out a lighter song that lives up to their older ballads like "Zakuro" and "Hotarubi". If I had to rate the songs like in most reviews, this would be the only one to get 10/10. But of course, not everyone likes their lighter songs, so they may not like it as much as I did. But at least this song proved Kyo can still sing. The ending of the song kinda caught me off-guard though. When "The Pledge" started, all I could think of was Pain Of Salvation's "America" if it were played by Linkin Park. It's gotten quite obvious at this point that the nu-metal influence is ingrained in their music. I like the vocal melody of this song. This song is kinda like Marrow's "The Final", but a little better. It's one of the only rockers on the album that completely lacks Kyo's growling, which is a nice change of pace. "Repetition of Hatred" got the "repetition" part right. It sounds so much like some of the other songs on the album. I'm frankly getting tired of Kyo's growling. This song is a little too Korn-ish for me. "The Deeper Vileness". Just no. I'm debating leaving this song off my iPod when I put this album on there (which I usually do with all the new albums I get). Why? I'm tired of hearing them try to be Slipknot or System Of A Down or Korn. I'm not saying this just to be some fanboy wanting to hear them play their "classic Visual Kei and put their makeup back on and dress like pretty ladies again", I'm saying this because Dir en grey totally lost that uniqueness to them that made them special, and became one of those copycat bands. And my biggest fears have come to life. The re-recording of "Clever Sleazoid," the gold that the original version had was just totally lost in this version. The vocals just sound, horrid. Even by Kyo's standards. Even by his LOWEST standards. I could have spurted gibberish into a mic and made more sense, and possibly show more cadence and dynamics than Kyo.
Lyrics — 5
Some of the lyrics are in Japanese, some of them are supposedly in English, but they all sound like some language Kyo made up himself. The vocal delivery is mostly shouted, usually pretty badly. It's the vocals that really ruin this album for me. The instrumental parts are actually not bad, but Kyo's growl is kinda off-putting.
Overall Impression — 6
So, does this album match up to their best? Not by a long shot. Is it total crap? No, there are some good moments on the album, and one of my favourite DeG songs recorded since Six Ugly. Is it better than "Withering to death"? Maybe. I haven't given this album the time to digest that I have with "Withering". Is it the band's worst album? It's one of them, for sure. Is it a good album overall, ignoring the fact that it's a Dir en grey album? It does have some good moments. This album could have been much better than it is. The band hardly even needs to change much but the vocals, and maybe fill in some of those "breakdowns" with solos or something. The songs have a tendency to drag on longer than they are (and this is a short set, as none of the songs exceed 5 minutes in length). The vocals are what ruin this album. If it were stolen, I'd have to track down my iPod or computer. I don't think I'll be legally buying this one.