Uroboros - With The Proof In The Name Of Living...- At Nippon Budokan [DVD] review by Dir en grey

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  • Released: May 26, 2010
  • Sound: 9
  • Content: 9
  • Production Quality: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (5 votes)
Dir en grey: Uroboros - With The Proof In The Name Of Living...- At Nippon Budokan [DVD]
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Sound — 9
Dir en Grey. A polarising band at the best of times. Some people vehemently hate them, others fanatically love them. They're an acquired taste and I fall into the "love" section. However, I despise obvious fanboy reviews so I will be as fair and critical as possible. The Budokan has a long, rich history as a music venue and is undoubtedly one of the most popular in Japan. With a capacity of nearly 15,000 it's a respectably large venue and is something of a Mecca for musicians. On January 9th and 10th 2010, Dir en Grey played 2 nights here, back to back. The standard edition of this DVD is a 2-disc affair with one disc per night. The tickets were sold out in minutes and it's easy to see why. The gig opens with Sa Bir, an instrumental song which, sets the atmosphere. A huge screen behind the stage shows the word "Uroboros" the title of their latest album, on the backdrop of an eclipse. This segues into the 9-minute epic, Vinushka which, although being a complex song is executed brilliantly. The live sound is well balanced, however I feel the bass was somewhat lost in the mix which is a pity because Toshiya's basslines are often quite groovy and interesting. But it is a small complaint. The band are very tight on this performance. Drummer Shinya provides complex, tireless rhythms while the dual-guitar work of Die and Kaoru shines, with Die changing things up a lot, throwing in small licks and improvising a few solos here and there. Kyo's vocals are strong, but do sometimes get muddled in with the instruments. In between some songs Kyo gives a solo vocal perfomance, using a lot of delay and reverb effects on his voice. These often sound like chants or mantras and add a dark, brooding atmosphere to the proceedings. When I first heard one of these sections on the Glass Skin single (usually called "Inward Scream") I gotta admit I didn't like it, then again I didn't like Dir en Grey when I first heard them. As with the band, each new album and each new song, however, I learn to love them. During these Inward Scream moments the lights go down and all is silent except for the eerie, almost haunting vocals. The band rollick through a marathon 26 song set, including songs from Withering to Death such as Dead Tree, and even a re-working of Zan, a song from their first album Gauze. Included in the setlist is newest single, the RIDICULOUSLY titled "Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami" which, if I have to refer it to again will simply be "Hageshisa". As the name would imply, most of the setlist is taken from the Uroboros album and delivered with skill and passion. Standout tracks would include Vinushka, Grief, Ryoujoku No Ame, Dead Tree and Dozing Green. To accompany us on this musical journey the aforementioned huge screen shows various clips, sometimes from a song's music video, but often they are odd, obscure clips. Extreme close ups of wrinkled hands, a ruined cityscape with a purple sky, an emaciated torso. Dir en Grey have always had an excellent sense of imagery and the inclusion of a large screen in their set reminds me very much of Tool. Using odd images which somehow fit with the music, but not in any discernible way. I think it adds a whole new layer to the gig. Rather than just going to listen to the music, you can watch, you can become absorbed in it. I watched it on my TV and it drew me in, I can only imagine what it was like to be there. Overall the setlist will appeal to Dir en Grey's newer fans, fans of the heavier, more metallic side. If you started listening to them from Withering to Death/Marrow of a Bone onwards then I imagine you'll enjoy this DVD. The sound is good, raw and loud, as is to be expected. There are a few more songs I'd like to have seen, but asking for more than 26 songs (25 if you don't count the instrumental) is getting a bit greedy I think.

Content — 9
The DVD is available in standard or limited editions. The limited edition comes with a 3rd DVD containing "bonus footage" and a live CD. The standard edition, as stated above, contains both nights at the Budokan. Some might think that shelling out extra cash to get bonus features is a bit unfair, but when you get 2 DVDs of live music, both clocking in at around 90 minutes each you've probably got enough content. I paid extra to own the limited edition because of my love for this band, however I believe the more widely available standard edition will satisfy the less hardcore fans.

Production Quality — 10
I'm not sure how must post-production trickery went into editing the sound of this concert, but I would hazard a guess at not much. It doesn't sound clean or over-produced at all. It's very well directed, offering a fair amount of screen time to each member with some pretty creative camera work. At the end of the DVD the huge screen behind the band is divided up into five squares, each one showing a band member. I loved this touch, it added a sense of grandeur to the finale. Picture quality, sound quality and the editing on this DVD are excellent. I can't find any complaints.

Overall Impression — 10
I'll compare this DVD to my (now) second favourite Dir en Grey DVD, The Rose Trims Again. In TRTA the band slowed down midway and out on an excellent acoustic show for 3 or 4 songs. This really allowed the viewer to see a more subdued and subtle side to the band. Unfortunately, no such section exists on this DVD, which I was a little bit disappointed about. However there are parts where this DVD outshines TRTA. The sound quality is better, the direction is more exciting and the visual aspect is much greater. The Rose Trims Again felt small and intimate, whereas Uroboros feels huge, loud and epic. Both are excellent live DVDs, but I think Uroboros takes the top spot thanks to the superior audio/visual aspect. My favourite part of the DVD was when the band broke into "Ryoujoku No Ame" a song from their Marrow of a Bone CD. Beforehand, Kyo had been performing one of his Inward Screams and all was quiet, eerie and dark. Then the lighting flares and the guitars come in and all is bright, loud and chaotic in an instant. I sat upright and said something along the lines of "Hell yeah!" as the tiny hairs on my arms stood on end. Overall, this is an excellent DVD and a good showcase talents. I consider a milestone in their career. Uroboros is arguably their most accomplished and popular album to date, demonstrating a more mature, darker and complex sound than earlier records. This DVD marks a time when Dir en Grey are at the height of their popularity. After a career spanning more than a decade they have changed a lot. Their style, both visual and musical has evolved naturally over time, becoming darker, heavier and angrier as the years have gone on. They have embraced a wider range of influences, particularly from American metal bands which I believe has given them a hybrid sound that appeals to East and West. There is hate for Dir en Grey, there is hate for any band. If you're a fan of bands like Lamb of God, Tool, hell even Nu Metal stuff like KoRn you'll most likely enjoy Dir en Grey. Their sound is hard to describe, influenced by many but sounding like no one else, if you haven't already I'd urge you to give them a listen, it might just change your life.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Vinushka
    Oh yay, Attack Attack! got front page over this...way to go UG, really. Way to go.
    travislausch
    How are the vocals? I know Kyo's not really one of those singers capable of reproducing his studio vocals live and on past DVDs he's had a lot of pitch troubles. How is he this time around? Especially on tracks like Vinushka?
    Vinushka
    The vocals are excellent. In fact, Vinushka is one of the best songs vocally speaking.
    travislausch
    I got (read: TOTALLY LEGALLY PURCHASED AND NOT DOWNLOADED AT ALL) the CD and I think I disagree. Same issues Kyo usually has on live albums: usually quite flat or sharp whenever he has to sing a higher part, usually sounds like he's completely out of breath when singing some parts. You know, I really like Kyo's new style and all, but I think he bites off more than he can chew. Then chews it anyways. The layering of vocal tracks on Uroboros is so heavy that it's damn near impossible to picture one vocalist trying to pull off the bulk of it themselves. It'd be better if there were like, three Kyos on stage or something (imagine the fits the fangirls would get into if that happened) or maybe the other guys should learn to sing and play at the same time. Mind you, he still did a better job than on the Feast Of V Senses DVD.
    Drummerwolf
    travislausch wrote: or maybe the other guys should learn to sing and play at the same time.
    not sure if you noticed but yes Die, Kaoru and Toshiya all provide backup vocals even if they are smaller parts.
    travislausch
    Drummerwolf wrote: travislausch wrote: or maybe the other guys should learn to sing and play at the same time. not sure if you noticed but yes Die, Kaoru and Toshiya all provide backup vocals even if they are smaller parts.
    That's not what I meant. I know they do sometimes do the grunts and most of the gang chant vocals. What I mean is the more melodic harmony parts, or the counterpoint melodic vocals that Kyo layers on to many of his recent tunes. Some examples being the choruses of most of the songs on Uroboros, and the final verse of Vinushka...
    iiiduncan
    Kyo usually has on live albums: usually quite flat or sharp whenever he has to sing a higher part, usually sounds like he's completely out of breath when singing some parts. You know, I really like Kyo's new style and all, but I think he bites off more than he can chew. Then chews it anyways. The layering of vocal tracks on Uroboros is so heavy that it's damn near impossible to picture one vocalist trying to pull off the bulk of it themselves. It'd be better if there were like, three Kyos on stage or something (imagine the fits the fangirls would get into if that happened) or maybe the other guys should learn to sing and play at the same time. Mind you, he still did a better job than on the Feast Of V Senses DVD.
    I can agree with what you're saying to a certain extent, generally. Being a long time fan of dir en grey, I used to feel kyo's live performances were a bit lackluster when compared to any of the band's produced material. In retrospect, however, I can't help but feel that the band is aiming at something as clear as reproducing their songs live. I wonder if it's a fluke, but I guess I can cite examples like ware, yami tote , glass skin and toguro , which all yielded unexpectedly different sonic textures than their recorded counterparts. Watching the studio lives of some of the Uroboros songs will reveal a lot of what's really "there" as well. I understand it as a difference of intent in the bands performance on the whole. Kyo shows some pretty valiant moments in songs I didn't think he could perform live at all...ware, yami tote , the pledge (which was pretty amazing to see him sing for the most part without a falsetto...you can hear the air move out of his mouth in the mix...and that note on reiketsu nariseba in whioh he fails hard (but he did manage to hit in FOVS, by the way) Maybe I've gotten lost in my own argument, but there's something in the tonal complexity of kyo's voice that is highly responsive to the conditions of live performance. This element works with the band to deliver something different, not just more, than what you heard on their album. Also Kyo stated in an interview around the Vulgar recording period that he didn't really care about pitch but focused more on an emotive delivery. I'm not sure if this is a nice way of saying "I can't do it live." or if this ideology even applies to the band after so long, but he certainly succeeds in delivering something truly unique to dir en grey's performances. that interview is on youtube, by the way. sorry if I failed to make a point.
    iiiduncan
    EDIT: " In retrospect, however, I can't help but feel that the band is aiming at something as clear as reproducing their songs live." I meant to say, "...I can't help but feel that the band is NOT aiming at something as clear as reproducing their songs live." Sorry.
    travislausch
    I'd like to think it's possible to deliver something unique and responsive while still maintaining proper pitch and not being flat all the time. But that's just me.
    travislausch
    I just got a copy of "The Rose Trims Again" and Kyo proved on that set that he is at least still capable of holding a tune when he wants to, like on "Undecided". I'm waiting for the fangirls to come in and say "well it's because he smokes a lot don't make fun of him you're meaaaaan", but really, there is no excuse. There's vocal traning, there's surgery, there's lifestyle changes... And the excuse of "delivering something emotionally unique" is moot too. How many great bands out there have emotionally unique and powerful performances, while remaining on pitch? I have yet to hear Daniel Gildenlow sing as off-pitch and off-timing as Kyo, and he still delivers the emotional goods every time Pain Of Salvation performs anywhere. So in short, while I respect Kyo for his studio abilities, his live performances leave me feeling very disappointed. I'm so glad I did not drop money on this.
    hackahobo
    travislausch wrote: I just got a copy of "The Rose Trims Again" and Kyo proved on that set that he is at least still capable of holding a tune when he wants to, like on "Undecided". I'm waiting for the fangirls to come in and say "well it's because he smokes a lot don't make fun of him you're meaaaaan", but really, there is no excuse. There's vocal traning, there's surgery, there's lifestyle changes... And the excuse of "delivering something emotionally unique" is moot too. How many great bands out there have emotionally unique and powerful performances, while remaining on pitch? I have yet to hear Daniel Gildenlow sing as off-pitch and off-timing as Kyo, and he still delivers the emotional goods every time Pain Of Salvation performs anywhere. So in short, while I respect Kyo for his studio abilities, his live performances leave me feeling very disappointed. I'm so glad I did not drop money on this.
    You have to keep in mind that not everybody has as powerful of a voice as Daniel Gildenlow. Kyo does things with his voice that no other vocalist can do with theirs, period (if you find someone who can, I'm all ears). Where his voice lacks in pitch, it certainly makes up for in passion, uniquesness, and straight up raw, unabashed energy. I personally can't blame him for struggling with his high notes; in case you hadn't noticed, his high notes are freakin' high .
    disturbedh8
    still cant beat seeing them in person. augst 24th new york times square! it was amazing
    Narwhal94
    Kyo does things with his voice that no other vocalist can do with theirs, period (if you find someone who can, I'm all ears).
    Mike Patton?