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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Artist Of The Day: Dir En Grey

Visual kei veterans Dir En Grey are truly the masters of genre hopping and experimental rock. Spanning eight studio albums in a handful of remastered, extended, and live varieties, the Japanese five-piece incorporate a staggering amount of influence from pop rock, hard rock, nu-metal, metalcore, and progressive metal with the occasional touch of dreamy indie and electronic. Talk about prolific. Despite lyrics written and performed mostly in Japanese, the music and emotion transcends language barriers and makes the band one of the most interesting and vital performers in the metal scene today.

The band first achieved international success with their fifth album, Withering to Death. Featuring airy guitar-driven songs such as “Itoshisa ha fuhai nitsuki” and fan favorite “The Final,” the album sets the tone for the band's progression into an even more experimental territory. Uroboros features a more progressive and haunting sound as exemplified in the nine-minute epic, “Vinushka.” Pianos and reverberating guitar echoes are layered throughout the album's single “Glass Skin,” showcasing a softer side of the band. Despite the seemingly decreased level in heaviness on Uroboros, Dir En Grey's newest creation Dum Spiro Spero takes an abrupt turn into an even heavier medium. “Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami” is an absolutely facemelting track, featuring deathcore-style growls and shrieks on top of pummeling drums and a thrashy guitar riffs. Yet, if you are a fan of the band's softer side, “Vanitas” on Dum Spiro Spero is another beautiful, enchanting track that listeners will get lost in so deep they'll forget the lyrics aren't even in English.

No matter your preferred genre, Dir En Grey have taken influence from it and twisted it into their own unique form of experimental music. It's hard describe the band's ever-changing sound, so check out Withering to Death and work your way forward. The vocals can be a large barrier, which fluctuate from dreamy hooks and to growls, grunts, shrieks, howls, and some squeaks that can be almost hilarious at times. If you want a lighter and more formulaic sound, work back in time through the band's first five albums. Despite the language barrier and the fluctuating sound, it's hard to deny Dir En Grey's flexibility and downright groundbreaking ability to create some of the most unique music you will ever hear.

The band will release a new EP on April 3rd titled The Unravelling featuring a new song and a handful of rerecorded tracks.

You can check out the band's newest releases on Spotify, pick them up on iTunes, or find them on Youtube.

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