Dir En Grey
03 April 2013
By David Keevill
The Japanese metallic monolith that is Dir En Grey have had a fairly minimal penetration into the tight-knit UK music community considering the number, and calibre, of their records over the course of the last sixteen years. 2013 sees the release of an EP called The Unraveling, a seven track record that, despite increasing momentum into a metal scene dominated by Western publicity machines, is more a retrospective consolidation of their swollen discography than a push towards a greater consciousness.
The earlier years of Dir En Grey saw the band meddling with a pop-rock sound that included elements of J-Rock and some occasional metal influences. Since then, they began a marked movement in the direction of a more straight-forward metallic sound that has culminated in t2011’s thunderous Dum Spiro Spero. The Unraveling marks a bridge between two integral times in the band’s career as Dir En Grey choose to work over a number of rarities and older tracks, bringing them up to date with the heavier strains of their most recent work. It is, as you’d expect, quite a piecemeal affair, but one not without its charms.
Even with each track taken on its own merit, Dir En Grey show no loyalty to any particular sound. ‘The Final’, for example, quickly leaps from blasts of distorted guitars into a vast melodic riff ripped right out from under the nose of Lacuna Coil, with chorus vocals that owe a direct homage to the likes of Spandau Ballet. For something a lot different, ‘Karma’ is a volatile mess of death metal vocals and disjointed riffing that is light years away from the punkish effrontery of its original release in 1997.
Watch some “teasers” to The Unravelling, because apparently that’s A Thing Bands Do these days:
Even the inclusion of new material (in the form of album opener ‘Unraveling’) is an apt demonstration of how Dir En Grey have kept shifting from release to release. The song lacks the dark and emotional urgency of the heart of Dum Spiro Spero and instead opts for something far stranger, flecking the shuddering guitar lines with falsetto shrieks that fade out as the song ends with an overwrought finale. It would sit oddly in a new body of work but serves a purpose in what is essentially a bridge across the band’s patchwork discography.
It’s only fitting that Dir En Grey remain a bit of an enigma to any audience, let alone that of the UK – The Unraveling might be a dogged mish-mash of indiscernible jagged shapes and colours, but it’s a peep show through which the listener can see the spectrum of Dir En Grey’s muddled back catalogue.
Sounds Like: Tony Hadley going balls first into a food processor
Standout Tracks: Bottom of the death valley, The Final