Dir en Grey - Withering to Death (Cover Artwork)

Dir en Grey

Withering to Death (2006)


One thing I've noticed on this site was the lack of overseas reviews by the staff. The International Spotlight does a great job introducing new bands from around the world, and sure, there's a few of those Europe bands everyone loves here and there. But there are a lot of styles going unnoticed by the readers. One being J-rock (Japanese rock), or Visual Kei, have you.

A few years after we bombed Japan (circa 1992), they started to show the effects in their music. J-rock really took hold in `92-`93, with bands like Larc~en~Ceil and Malice Mizer ruling the airwaves. Dir en Grey (Diru) came along and went against the average J-rock band. Diru is known for the craziness and originality they bring to the J-rock genre. Their style consists of a variety of music from metal to punk to even ballads. The singer (we'll call him Kyo) can impress listeners with his unique voice ranging from growls to falsetto. Maybe the lyrics will give some a rouse...

You walk the mountain road made of corpses smiling. Again you reach out and ants gather under the lily under the sun. People that can't redeem have ash, tears, and tacitunity in both their hands... What's cruel is when the sun and the moon come together. Even tomorrow looks away. On the Red Day you question taciturnity...
It's also the effort Kyo puts into his vocals, live or recorded, that makes him a great frontman. The album explodes with "Merciless Cult," and keeps on at it for the first couple tracks.

The guitar work in Withering to Death is by no means groundbreaking, but it's how Kaoru and Die match up their playing…they don't, but they blend together fine, and it's what makes Diru, Diru (Saku and Machiavellism are good examples). I couldn't go on without noting Toshiya's bass work on the album; it would be empty without his style (songs like "The Final" and "Kodoku ni Shisu, Yueni Kodoku"). Shinya's percussion also needs some praise (again "The Final," also "C").

Diru is a refreshing band because of their ability to go from brutal metal then burst into catchy melodic choruses making listeners want to sing along... but it's Japanese. The slower songs on this album display Diru's softer side, but at times it just seems like they just threw the song together and it just drags on ("Higeki wa Mabuta o Oroshita Yasashiki Utsu" at 5:08).

Unlike most Diru albums there aren't any guitar solos or bass solos. They approached this album with an attitude toward making music that a listener could feel, without all of the showing off. And it's the sign of progress -- bands do that sometimes. However, in their earlier work they could show a few people who was boss.

After the disc comes to an end, and depressing yet satisfying screams are screamed, older Diru fans are left disappointed as Diru leaves the Visual Kei genre and reach out toward their creative inner-selves. Newer fans of the more aggressive Diru will be pleased and encourage the newer style. Highly recommended for those looking for a new thrill.