DIR EN GREY - DUM SPIRO SPERO
Artist: DIR EN GREY
Title: DUM SPIRO SPERO
Release date: 01 August 2011
By now, Dir en grey are a band that probably don't really need much of an introduction. After all, they have visited numerous cities right across the UK as part of the KERRANG tour, as well performing at some of our most prominent festivals such as Download and Sonisphere. Yet somehow, they still don't seem to have the level of media attention they really deserve. As was the story with 'Black Sabbath' back in their early years, the media still can't seem to grasp the unusual time changes or sounds they're not used to, so repeatedly tell us it doesn't work. Music fans however, appear to hold a different opinion, and certainly seem to be standing up and taking notice. As it stands at the moment, every headline show Dir en grey have played in London has sold out, some within minutes.
Although there’s no doubt when it comes to the bands popularity, when it comes to genre it’s a completely different story. Since the inception of ‘metal’ in the late 60's, bands have been notoriously uneasy being pigeon-holed by the media into that category, and Dir en grey are no exception. But, whether they’re ‘hard rock’ or ‘metal’ in any of its present day forms, DUM SPIRO SPERO, which will be released an agonizing 2 years and 10 months after its predecessor, is both heavier and darker sounding, and well worth the wait.
The album opens with an instrumental track which sets the atmosphere perfectly for this album. With its discordant piano and distorted chants, alongside some eerily beautiful violins, Kyoukotsu No Nari manages to capture the sound of foreboding for what’s to come.
The previously released singles; ‘LOTUS’, ‘Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami…’ and ‘Different Sense’, are probably the best entry point for new listeners to the band. Not that any of the tracks could necessarily be labelled as commercial sounding in any way, but certainly, they would help ease new ears into the world of Dir en grey. In all honesty though, this is an album that should be listened to from start to finish. More than ever before this album seems to play out like a great novel, an epic battle of good and evil, but the dark side is definitely winning.
Although it could never be said that Dir en grey have ever been in any way upbeat, this time they seem to be searching the darkest recesses of sound and atmosphere. Not only are the guitars tuned low, with some atmospherically doomy pluckings right from the outset, but Kyo's vocals range from sounding at times, truly angelic, to outright possessed, giving it an occult religious feel. It’s almost like they’re calling out the very things that feed off hopelessness and fear from both western and eastern religions, myths and legends before releasing all of that despair and anguish with VANITAS, and finally leaving you with a feeling of hope, with ‘Ruten No Tou’ . The title, DUM SPIRO SPERO – meaning, while I breathe I hope- couldn’t be more perfect.
Often it seems that bands are discovered at their peak, where we see the best couple of albums in their early years before we have to endure the slow decline through album after album. With Dir en grey the opposite is true. Each album sees a development, not of individual musicians heading out in different directions, but as a band; a band that is becoming ever more accomplished and unique.
Dir en grey isn’t about any one member. Rather than a battle of egos, the part each play in every track is there to create the perfect feel and sound for each song, and they all do that to an exceptional level. Each song also, an essential chapter adding to the atmosphere in the story that is, DUM SPIRO SPERO. That isn't to say there aren't any stand alone tracks by any means. Notably DIABOLOS which is darkly beautiful as it weaves its way through both melancholy and chaos for almost 10 minutes.
This is not an album that can (or should) be recommended to any particular genre of music fan, and DUM SPIRO SPERO is certainly not an album for everyone. Many will no doubt miss the point of such an intensely chaotic album and all its painful dark beauty, but for everyone else, this album is a spectacular piece of work, with some great musicianship and eerily enchanting melodies.
01. Kyoukotsu No Nari
02. THE BLOSSOMING BEELZEBUB
03. DIFFERENT SENSE
05. “Yokusou Ni DREAMBOX” Aruiwa Seijuku No Rinen To Tsumetai Ame
07. Shitataru Mourou
11. DECAYED CROW
12. Hageshisa To, Kono Mune No Naka De Karamitsuita Shakunetsu No Yami
14. Ruten No Tou