Withering To Death Review

artist: Dir en grey date: 08/04/2008 category: compact discs
Dir en grey: Withering To Death
Release Date: Mar 17, 2005
Label: Sony
Genres: Metal
Number Of Tracks: 14
This Japanese band produces noisy, psychotic rock with metal influences and a touch of industrial music.
 Sound: 9.3
 Lyrics: 8.8
 Overall Impression: 8.8
 Overall rating:
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reviews (4) 12 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9.7
Withering To Death Reviewed by: unregistered, on february 21, 2006
5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sound: Dir En Grey, a influential Japanese rock band, have definately got alot 'heavier' for ther 5th album. If youve never heard of Dir en grey or the Japanese rock scene I'd advise you listen to Vulgar or Macabre first. That does not mean this album isn't anything special. Yes, it takes a couple of listens to get used to, but after that your in love. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics, as always, are dark and twisted. You might not be ablke to understand them, but that does not mean they wont add to the songs. There are a few ballard-ish songs on here where Kyo's (the vocalists) where his talent really stands out. If you've heard this album and don't think his voice is anything special. Go to one of their live shows. That will give you all the proof you need. Dir En Grey do include transltions to their songs which might shock and disturb, but also spark curiousity. // 10

Overall Impression: You cannot compare Dir En Grey to any other artist. They are completely orignal and unique. No other band comes close to what Kyo, Die, Kaoru, Toshiya and Shinya have. The most impressive songs, personally, on this album are The Final and Kodoku Ni Shisu, Yueni Kodoku. For me, they are damn close to perfection. One cristism I would have about this album is there is quite alot of shouting (controled shouting I must add), and maybe Kyo may want to tone that down in future. If this album was stolen/lost I would fly over to Japan in person and buy another one. // 9

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overall: 10
Withering To Death Reviewed by: Gun Delirious, on january 18, 2007
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Dir En Grey, by far, is indeed a "rocker", as one might say. This isn't the typical J-pop that you'd hear as the theme of your favorite anime show or something of that nature. Dir En Grey gets down and dirty fast and lets people know they're there. Not only do they influence others to endorse in Japanese rock (J-rock), but they bring out a new sound that is individual, and somewhat inspiring. Songs like "Dead Tree", "Higeki Ha Mabuta Wo Oroshita Yasashiki Utsu", "Itoshisa Ha Fuhai Itsuki", and "The Final" are examples of the band's softer, ballad style. Others execute hardcore riffs and heaviness, like "Merciless Cult", "Saku", "Garbage", and "Spilled Milk". The songs are no joke, and can leave you breathtaken. // 10

Lyrics: Kyo is, by far, the best vocalist you could ask for in such a band as this, or in any band for that matter. It's soothing, yet painful at times, but in a good way. He, noticeably, brings out all of his emotion in singing, and it certainly fits with the music. Also in "Withering To Death", the lyrics of Dir En Grey are psychotic and morbid, as you'd be familiar with from past albums. The lyrics seem to be derivited from pain that Kyo, the lyricist, suffers throughout life, and he can describe in excellent (although sometimes morbid) detail. "The Final" is, by far, one of the most emotional pieces of work I've heard of any band. (Luckily translations come with the CD). It deals a lot withb self-torture, meaningless in life, and suicide. It's striking at first, but when you really get into the lyrics you can almost actually feel what he does. "Kodou" is also very emotional and deals a lot with not being able to avoid fate. It's very catchy and easy to listen to. Another catchy song, my personal favorite, is probably "Machiavellism" which is very easy to get into. It's fast, edgy, got a great rock beat, and most of it is sung in English, so you'll be singing along right away! Although, it is also very depressing within the lyrics, despite it's upbeat sound. // 10

Overall Impression: Dir En Grey are, as cliche as it might sound, impossible to describe in one single word. A bunch you could use would be: individual, different, innovative, talented, amazing, unique, twisted, morbid, dark, heavy, soft, sad, persuasive, inflicting, definitive, and very easy to enjoy. They've definitely changed my viewpoint on Japanese music, after listening to few J-pop artists. These guys are like no other band. They know what they're doing. I deeply desire that anyone should also pick up their older albums like "Gauze" and "Vulgar" in some way. Those are also great Dir En Grey one-of-a-kinds and so are the other releases from them. If I had lost this album, I'd most definitely buy it again in any way that I could. This band is amazing and I couldn't be any happier after discovering them. // 10

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overall: 7.7
Withering To Death Reviewed by: TakeTheKTrain, on june 11, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Dir en Grey's signature sound of having no real specific sound shines in their first American-released album, Withering to Death. Each of the 14 tracks on the album all have a different stylistic approach. The first song, Merciless Cult, begins with a rather slow, almost spooky intro. After the rather slow guitar intro, the vocal's come in. The song stays at a slow pace until Kyo begins screaming. It picks up a bit until he begins singing again. From there on out it repeats that pattern until the end when the song picks up while Kyo alternates between singing and screaming. The next song couldn't be any more different. It begins immediately with a heavy guitar and drum intro. Kyo begins to sing and the song ensues with him screaming every now and then until the song slows down for the pre-chorus. Then it quickly speeds up when the actual chorus begins. I could sit here all day and list every song, but that would just take too long. The only real problem with Dir en Grey's sound is that would be almost impossible to tell if a song was by Dir en Grey if it weren't for Kyo. Each song is different, so it's almost impossible to pin an exact genre or sound. // 9

Lyrics: It's really hard to talk about the lyrics in this album. It's not because Kyo is hard to understand, it's because almost the entire CD is in Japanese. Whenever there are English words, it's more or less impossible to tell that their singing in English. The chorus for the third song, Saku, is in English, but you wouldn't know that unless you looked up the lyrics. This is probably what would turn most people off from the band. // 6

Overall Impression: This is probably one of my favorite albums ever. I would highly suggest to buy this if you like a mixture of genres, or if you just want something a bit different. The only real problem with the album is the Japanese lyrics and the fact that it's hard to match a song's name to the song it belongs to. I've been listening to this album for almost two months, and I could probably name three or four of the songs just by hearing them. Other than that, it's one of the best album's I've ever heard. // 8

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overall: 8.3
Withering To Death Reviewed by: travislausch, on august 04, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Dir en grey's sound has changed a lot over the years. They started off as a "typical" Visual Kei band whose music style seemed to sound like a pop version of progressive metal (think if Depeche Mode played Queensryche covers), but stripped their sound down over the years to a more metallic approach, with influences from American punk and hardcore bands. While this has alienated many of the band's core fans, the band is becoming truer and truer to their own vision every album. The band's transition can be seen well on this album, as there are some songs that seem to encompass the band's past ("Machivellism" appears to be one of those tunes that could have fit on their first three albums), and present. Represented here is a diverse range of sounds, from almost punk-like rock ("Garbage") to modern alternative metal ("The Final") to outright thrash ("C"). The bass is upfront in many songs, and while the guitarists have basically cut out all guitar soloing from their sound on this album, they play some very crisp riffs, and prove that their sound can still be interesting, even if Kaoru or Die are not playing heart-wrenching solos over everything. Kyo's vocals show a bit of maturing on this record, even though he still had a long way to go to match the intensity of later tracks like "The Pledge" and "Dozing Green". Fortunately, there aren't any songs on this record that are devoid of his clean vocals, which are infinitely better than his growled, although he does perform competently in that department in a few songs. The most notable case of this is in the song "C", which has a brief line of growled vocals which are as impressive as anything Opeth have done. The drums are also shown in full intensity here, with Shinya plowing ahead at full force on songs like "C" and "Saku", the latter of which was named #1 on Headbanger's Ball in '06. But Shinya also knows when to lay back and play in the pocket. The musicians on this record are more than competent, and the sound is quite pleasing for the most part. There are a few songs that aren't very memorable, however. My criticism of this album stems in the fact that a lot of the songs sound too similar, too derivative, and a couple of them sound lazy. There could have been a lot more work put into a song like "Dead Tree", which is begging for a guitar solo or some kind of epic bridge section to round it out, instead of being two riffs. The production is a little thin compared to "The Marrow Of A Bone", and some of the songs just don't seem to be mixed just right. // 8

Lyrics: Kyo probably has one of the most distinctive vocal styles in modern rock. While he initially sounded like every other J-rocker out there (ie, a Gackt-clone), he eventually came into his own. His style seems to be some kind of amalgamation between Gackt, Corey Taylor, and Mike Patton. While his voice can be rather soothing sometimes, he tends to favor the screaming/shouting approach on this record. The man can do a lot of things with his voice. Except pronounce English. Lyrically this album is one of the band's stronger efforts. It lacks a lot of the shock elements that make "The Marrow Of A Bone" both enjoyable and at the same time deplorable, while improving on the emotional aspects shown on previous albums. Themes of lost love, guilt, addiction to fate, suicide, depression, and war are prevalent through this album. Kyo's lyrics on this album are as rich and vivid as they've ever been (if you can read the translations, anyways, since most of this album is in Japanese), and his songs never seem to have a happy ending. These are deep stories compared to most artists in this genre nowadays. My biggest criticism is the English lyrics. While I'm all for Japanese bands trying to sing in a foreign tongue, and I'm no "typical j-rock fan" who wants Diru to go back to their VK sound, I have to admit that hearing Kyo attempt English is sometimes quite grating. The effect can sometimes be amusing (as seen on "Machivellism"), but for the most part, it's painful to listen to. All in all though, the lyrics themselves are deep, thought-provoking, and shocking without being melodramatic and fake. // 9

Overall Impression: While this album alienated fans worldwide, and infuriated many of those typical j-rock fans who saw this as a form of "selling out to reach the American market", the band members themselves have said that they had always been inspired by American hardcore and punk bands, and that this had been a natural progression for the band. Take into account the fact that in their early VK days, there was a lot of pressure from the label to stay close to a VK style. As soon as the band found freedom, they grasped for it. And while there are definitely some negative aspects to this album, like Kyo's sometimes irritating English pronounciation and a weak second half of the album, this is an overall great album from the band that deserves at least the respect of the fans. While some elements of past albums will be missed (like epic-length numbers like "Macabre" or Floyd-esque ballads like "Mushi"), the direction the band takes on this record is a fresh mix of old and new. The only improvement I'd make is a little more guitar shredding (which Die has been doing on some tracks live lately, like "Saku"), and maybe tone down a bit of Kyo's screaming vocals. I'd definitely buy this album for real if I could find it in any stores in my area for a fair price, which is somewhat impossible here. If I had lost it, I'd be pretty upset. The overall impression is an 8.5 out of 10, but I'm rounding it down to 8 just because The Marrow Of A Bone shows some significant improvements in some of the areas that I found lacking on this album. It's not quite a must-buy for first time fans, but this is a great transitional album for the band, and a good album for anyone who has only heard their early stuff. // 8

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