Uroboros review by Dir en grey

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  • Released: Nov 11, 2008
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.6 (51 votes)
Dir en grey: Uroboros
1

Sound — 8
Sa Bir - I guess it's a decent intro to the album. I hear the mandolin on there, but it's buried in the mix. Vinushka - I saw the length of the song (9:36) and thought "yes, the days of their old music are back". Basically, this song is more ballad-like for the first couple of minutes, but with a few pretty kickass metal riffs, even by Kaoru's and Die's standards. Reminds me a bit of "Macabre", but with some of the more "punchy" guitar parts removed. Kyo starts his screaming 4 minutes into the song. I think that's the longest he's gone on a recent record without shredding his tonsils! But strangely, he makes it sound different from The Marrow Of A Bone, and I kind of like the section where he's screaming in rhythm with the guitars. The whole stop/start thing feels progressive. You keep hoping for the first 5 minutes that Kaoru or Die is gonna bust out some sweeps or something, but then they instead break into... acoustic guitars and clean singing. And wtf flute part? In MY Dir en grey!? Stranger things have happened. The song feels quite epic, and for once, I find Kyo's habits don't quite drag the song down as much as they did on the last album. His harmonies are a bit gratingly out of tune though. Red Soil - Anyone who's a fan of this band has heard the song already, but I might as well review it. The song starts off strong, with a more "elegant" sounding guitar passage. Kind of like acoustic metal? Kyo's singing is actually pretty decent in the first half. And funny enough, I like his death metal growls in the second half of the song. He sounds like he's actually been practicing them! But then he has to go ruin everything with one of his frantic death metal freakouts. The harpsichord-sounding instrument brings back some memories of older visual-kei styles though, which is kinda neat. I guess they got tired of the same old dropped-D nu-metal riffing and decided to bring back a few classical melodies here and there. But then they do kind of come off sounding a bit too much like Moi Dix Mois or something. So again, a good song which could use a little less Kyo. Doukoku to Sarinu - I think someone's been listening to a little too much metalcore. The drumming is pretty awesome though. I like it when Shinya remembers how big his drum kit is. The clean guitars are kinda cool. But Kyo needs to learn when to stop thinking he's in a metalcore band. I did like the background whispers in the verses. Those were kinda cooooool. This is YET ANOTHER SONG THAT NEEDS MORE KAORU OR DIE SOLOING. It's obvious that this album, so far, is going to be geared towards their skills. I mean, so far, this album has SHINED for guitar, save for the lack of solos so far. Oh, when the song breaks into a section with sung vocals, it actually sounds really awesome. Toguro - This song starts off reminding me a bit of some old In Flames, only with sung vocals. The guitars are pretty awesome in this song too. Sounds dark and menacing, but funky, strangely. But not in a "Disabled Complexes" way. Think "Jesus Christ R'n'R" if a grunge version of In Flames wrote it. There we go. Some guitar soloing. It ain't much, but it's still there. Kyo shows a lot of restraint in this song too, but still shows that he can actually SING. This is the first song so far that's impressed me the whole way through. I sure hope the rest of the album has a few more songs like this... Glass Skin - One of the two singles. Everyone's heard this one too. But this one is sung in English, apparently. I have no idea what Kyo is singing. But at least he's trying. This will be one where you'll have to open up your lyric books. I think I prefer the Japanese version. And not because I'm trying to hold on to any credibility as a J-rock fan (which I already completely lack). I just think Kyo's singing flows better in the original. Too many damn consonants in the chorus. And if there's one thing Kyo sucks at, it's consonants. He should just sing entirely in vowels. Oh, right, there's music behind it. The intro piano reminds me too much of Linkin Park, but the rest of the song redeems itself with some awesome atmospheric guitar parts. There's no solo or anything (well, kind of), but it's more like just wailing, emotional guitar licks. It's kind of what Kaoru needed to do for a long time. Stuck Man - Besides having the second-dumbest title on the record, this song is just... weird. The intro is so... psychadelic. Then the riff is another brain-dead dropped-D riff. The funky guitars remind me a lot of stuff from Six Ugly. Then there's this jazzy thing going on in the middle. Toshiya hasn't done much to impress me on this album so far, but it almost sounds like he was playing a fretless there. That would have been pretty cool. Oh wait there's this cool walking bass run before Kyo's now-trademark freakout. This is probably the closest this album gets to The Marrow Of A Bone so far. Except Kaoru kind of solos near the end? Reiketsu Nariseba - Here, the band also finds more ways to make us say "wtf". Wait was that a tapping lick I just heard. It's like "Saku" on LSD. Only Saku didn't have a slow, psychadelic bridge with what sounds like sitar and ethnic percussion. Yup. Diru needs to lay off the psychotropics. So far, they've lied about the whole "Kyo focuses more on his singing voice than his screaming". But he does it differently than on The Marrow Of A Bone. He either sings beautifully, whispers stuff, does a DEEP growl that wouldn't be out of place on an Opeth album, or just freaks out. Ware, Yami Tote... - Holy crap that scared me. Acoustic guitars and singing and pretty sounding music. This is the other "epic-length" number. I love the chord progression in the first part. Sounds like it belongs on a 70's prog album of some kind. This might be the closest thing to a classic Diru sound on the album so far. I guess it's comparable so far to songs like "Zakuro". But this is a complete 180 from the previous song. In fact, it's a complete turnaround from everything the band's ever done. It's like Kyo's old vocal style over mariachi-like acoustic guitars, and atmospheric harmonics a la "Glass Skin". But it sounds much better than I describe it. About 4 minutes in, the song picks up a bit with some distortion, but it's not exactly "intense". It still sounds very 70's-ish. I think it's the drumming. Shinya's been taking some lessons from Keith Moon and Neil Peart, I suppose. Kyo did a scream that seemed a bit out of place, but it's forgivable. This is another song that thoroughly impressed me. It might even make me consider buying this album. Bugaboo - and the dumbest title on this record is... yup. Well, it's not so much dumb as "unexpected". Wait, it's Kyo we're talking about here. I got some serious Pantera vibes from the first bit of the song. Reminds me a lot of "This Love". This song is pretty cool, for one of their heavier tunes. The growling is deep and guttural, instead of shriek-y. And then Kyo sings some high harmonies over it, but it seems buried in the mix. The part about 4 minutes in is pretty epic. This should have been on their last album. It probably would have improved it without making it any less "intense". Gaika, Chinmoku ga Nemuru Koro - Another all-out metal basher from the start (after a pretty trippy electronic-ish intro). Now the whole growling-then-singing thing works if you're Between The Buried And Me or Opeth, but not so much for Dir en grey. The sung chorus is nice and all, but it seems so out of place. This is probably my low point of the album. Dozing Green - This song is over a year old now, and after the rest of the album, I came to this one as a sort of respite from Kyo's antics. I guess now that I hear this song in the context of the album, I can honestly say that I wasn't expecting this song to be one of the SOFTEST on the album. I mean, so far, they've been telling us how Kyo'd be doing more "singing" and that there would be more "elegant" instrumentation. But so far, there's been even MORE harsh vocals and even HEAVIER instrumentation. I think they're getting at how Kyo, when he DOES sing cleanly, sings better than ever (but this is rarer than ever), and that the melodies are a little more sophisticated than on The Marrow Of A Bone (less nu-metal pandering and a bit more metalcore minor-key stuff). Also this is the English version of the song, which, again, enforces my belief that Kyo needs to stop trying to pronounce things. In any language. That leaves one more song: Inconvenient Ideal - Why did the intro make me think of 80's hair metal until the rest of the band kicked in? Hahaha. Well, there's another soft song, it seems. Oh wait, some heavy guitars. But like "Ware, Yami Tote... " before it, it doesn't exactly match the intensity of the rest of the album. Kyo sings some decently high notes in the chorus. This is probably the best track, vocally, so far. It sounds kind of prog, which is definitely cool. And Kaoru almost gives us a little solo. I know I probably sound like a broken record about how there's still no lead guitar all over the place, but man, think of how an album like this could be spiced up with a few solos. Technically, the album's not quite finished yet. They gave us the Japanese versions of "Glass Skin" and "Dozing Green", but only as bonus tracks on certain editions of the album. So any first-time listeners to the two singles can compare the two with fresh ears. Instrumentally, the songs are exactly the same as their English counterparts, but the lyrics and vocals tend to flow better in Japanese. And again, I'm not just saying that to be "cool" in the eyes of J-fans. Kyo can just pronounce his mother tongue better. It's not so grating to listen to him butcher Japanese as it is English.

Lyrics — 9
As mentioned above, the lyrics are sung either in Japanese or English, but they kinda come off as Kyoish. There are plenty of cool vocal effects, and some of the heavier parts are some of the best parts Dir en grey have created to date. The lyrics themselves are a bit more mature, according to the postings on songmeanings.net. I bought the CD, and lemme tell you, the lyric booklet doesn't really help as it's dark grey printing against black. Curses. But, we still get a bit of Kyo's trademark profanity and anger on a couple of tracks ("Stuck Man" and "Reiketsu Nariseba") while the rest of the album is pretty much dark, but mature. The lyrics actually impress me. And for someone who can't sing in English very well, Kyo sure has a decent English vocabulary.

Overall Impression — 8
So my impression is that this album is completely the opposite of what I thought it would be. I was almost expecting an acoustic album, but instead they gave us probably the heaviest album of their career. But there are a few really good songs on here. Some that might even give some faith back to old fans of the band that gave up on them after Withering To Death. This isn't the "return to form" the band promised, not by a long shot. But I think, based on my first impression, I would rather listen to this than The Marrow Of A Bone. At the very least, the entire album isn't braindead-sounding nu-metal pandering, and there's actually SOME sophistication in the instrumentation. I guess even Kyo can only handle so much dropped-D riff syncopation before he wants to do something meaningful again. My final verdict on this review? I think I'll give it a 8/10 for now. Kyo's vocals are the only thing keeping this album from being a 9 or 10. But even he has shown a bit of improvement. His growling is better than his shrieking, but he still freaks out too much. His clean vocals are some of the best of his career, though. Kaoru and Die are fine on this record, even without playing a lot of solos. Their atmospherics and their riffs definitely keep things interesting. Toshiya doesn't exactly impress me like he did on their older stuff, but he does a good job on the bottom end. Shinya really impressed me this round, by discovering that behind his drum kit's mirror, there's actually more drums! It's like giving a kid a box to play in only to have them discover there was a toy inside! If someone stole this CD, I'd probably hunt them down. For all that this record has wrong with it, it's still one of the best albums of this year and was well worth my purchase.

16 comments sorted by best / new / date

    travislausch
    c4r80n14 wrote: how can you say this is the worst album??
    As you can plainly see, I didn't. I actually gave the album an 8/10. And while it's not my favourite album from these guys, it does have some of my favourite songs.
    yes they are taking things in a new direction but considering it is dir en grey you can not be disappointed.
    Actually... you can be disappointed. If you don't like the direction of music a band is taking, you, the fans, have every right to dislike it. And while some parts of this album were disappointing, I still went out and bought a copy.
    another thing it wounds like you dont exactly listen to the heaviest of music (all shall perish, suicide silence, whitechaple, etc) sound like you listen to things like oh in flames, or COB, hell maybe even coheed and cambria.
    You say that like it's a bad thing! And I'm sorry to break it to you, but Gojira, Meshuggah, Textures, and Aghora are billions of times heavier than the other bands you listed. Before accusing someone of having a closed-minded taste, you should maybe check their profile and see what bands are listed in there. ^_~
    and the "vocal effects" nothing kyo does is synthesized. so let me ask you can you pull of some of the things kyo can??? hmmmm can ya?
    Having listened to some studio footage of Kyo... I can assure you that while none of the effects are synthesized, they use a generous amount of auto-tune on his voice, since he has a hard time staying on pitch. And this is especially apparent live. I know you seem like a typical j-rock fan who's going to tell me otherwise, but it's true. Does that detract from my enjoying the music when it's done right? No.
    and another thing instrumental talent does not mean that a song can not be great.
    Of course not, but it makes things more interesting than the same old brain-dead drop-D riffs being repeated over and over again. Which is why I'm glad Dir en grey explored other instrumental options like acoustic guitars, mandolins, flutes, electric sitar, and congas. But Diru's guitar playing alone has kind of been suffering lately, which is kind of disheartening for us guitarists?
    all in all this review was absolutely horrible and angered me greatly. and coming from a very narrow minded reviewer.
    I make no apologies for pointing out my own opinion, but before you go calling me "narrow-minded", maybe you should make a trip to my profile, look at the list of bands I like, and point out a genre or style that's not represented there. The fact that I was even open-minded enough to give this album a listen (trust me, a lot of people would cringe at the thought of listening to an experimental Japanese metal album) should be enough for you.
    find out for yourself and then make your own judgments.
    Which is exactly what I did. And people who come up with their own opinions are allowed to express them, even if they conflict with yours, right? :3 And notice that I didn't even rate this album THAT badly (I even went so far to say that it was one of the best albums of the year!). I'd have given The Marrow Of A Bone a much weaker review, and Withering To Death only a little better. This album is a VAST improvement over the last two, and I am happy to see them take this direction. This only gives me hope that their future releases will be even better. So here, u-g, we have an example of a member getting riled up over very little, or next to nothing. Fangirl? Probably.
    c4r80n14
    WTF!?!?! this review made me want to beat you with a wire brush. how can you say this is the worst album?? its not there best NO as i am quite fond of Withering to death. yes they are taking things in a new direction but considering it is dir en grey you can not be disappointed. considering the band has been around for 12 years you kinda have to expect change. as they do sing about a lot of topics that relate to society in japan at the time. and those topics are not going to be the same for 12 years. another thing it wounds like you dont exactly listen to the heaviest of music (all shall perish, suicide silence, whitechaple, etc) sound like you listen to things like oh in flames, or COB, hell maybe even coheed and cambria. and the "vocal effects" nothing kyo does is synthesized. so let me ask you can you pull of some of the things kyo can??? hmmmm can ya? the "freak out" part of red soil is amazing because kyo demonstrates a small sample of vocal sounds he can pull off in a matter of oh 20 seconds or so. and then what band do you know that can also pull off a growl with a vibrato type sound at the end. listen closely. its sad that you can not see that the music is supposed to make you think. and since i am sure most of us are american here and dont understand a word of japanese... listen to the music for the emotion that kyos voice pulls off. yes it is very missleading to the actual words i know this. the lyric book yes hard to read... im dim light. get a brighter light or open up your curtains or something. and another thing instrumental talent does not mean that a song can not be great. look at dragonforce... an ok band but since they are known for there technical guitar riffs and what not that does not make them great. and they speed up there stuff so with that said they cannot even play what they write... hmmmm but yet they are SO AmAzInG?! uh no... and they are not like american metal band like slipknot mudvayne and godsmack where they start out heavy and then they become more and more softer... jrock bands start out soft and become heavier and heavier... ever notice that??? all in all this review was absolutely horrible and angered me greatly. and coming from a very narrow minded reviewer. dont listen people and take the "thank you for smoking" approach, find out for yourself and then make your own judgments. on the diru scale this cd gets a 9 for me.
    NightwishAngel
    I love this album. Definitely an improvement over Marrow of a Bone. It's a lot more melodic and experimental. Definitely a must have and one of the best metal albums of the year!
    travislausch
    I definitely agree. For all the flaws this album has, it's still one of the best albums of '08, hands-down.
    TechnoJesus™
    SOOOO AWESOME i love this band. this may not be obne of thier cd's but its hella worth buying if you're a fan
    ryuukevin
    This brought me back to dir en Grey. i sorta went back to vulgar after marrow, but now this album did it. lol. i just wish they would do something like "child prey" again. mabye later.....
    le_cólere_rouge
    this is best m@therf@cking album of Dir en Grey!!! It can only be compared to Kisou Or Vulgar!!! JUST GREAT!!!!!
    One-FISH-
    How the hell is Gaika the "Low point on the album"??? Well-sung chorus was "out of place"??!?!? That song is fantastic, and the fact that I saw him pull that crap off live made it even more awesome. That chorus brings that song out and puts it apart from every heavy thrash song out there.
    kyngofhearts
    i agreed with this like 50% i heard about them when macabre came out and lost my last shred of faith on marrow of a bone. withering was okay compared to westernized metal, and i LOVE it when kyo switches rapidly between clean vocals and screams/growls. hearing all the new elements and combinations on this record made me regain nearly All my faith (if only they'd play pre-vulgar songs live... -shakes fist i enjoyed this album immensely, it brought back their erratic tendancies musically, adding somesuperheavy supergrowly elements from marrow into their catalogue of styles. also, dir en grey has Never been about solos, so i don't know what the **** you were thinking. have kaoru and die EVER had sweeping leads?
    at_field
    the fact that you said gaika is the low point of the album, tells me you don't know what you are talking about. that and you said the album would be better if kaoru and die did solos.
    Jau_Peacecraft
    I will try & post a review of this soon to help balance the score out (i.e. I think it should be at least 9 or 10; easily their most unique album since MACABRE & Withering).
    travislausch
    God I love reading all the butthurt comments on my review. You're all sheep! Anyways, I already said it like a million times. This album did become one of my favourites of 2008. It's a pretty damn fine album. yes, I thought of Gaika as one of the weak points. That is my opinion. I do believe I am entitled to one, and this is a review, meaning I am allowed to speak my opinion on it. Sheep.
    travislausch
    disturbedh8 wrote: you forgot stuck man.....
    READ. THE. GODDAMN. REVIEW. My god people, is it too much to ask to sit down and read more than the bold text? You will see that I did indeed review Stuck Man. U-G ate up the formatting. But anyone with eyes and a brain who actually took the time to READ the review will see that it IS there.