DIR EN GREY – Uroboros

While they may be seven albums into their career, DIR EN GREY only show signs of growth and evolution for the better with their latest, Uroboros. As a whole, Uroboros is easily recognizable as being “DIR EN GREY.” However, the band has expanded upon building emotional atmospheres via writing longer, more intricate songs; upping the musicianship displayed; and just writing better riffs. Those dark and twisted tones are ever present, led by the powerful and soulful yet schizophrenic vocals of Kyo. Mixed amongst all of the Japanese hard/heavy rock and nu-metal stylings are numerous “true” metal riffs. This signals the bands ever increasing direction into incorporating more brutal metallic influences.

Just as intro, “Sa Bir,” builds up to a crescendo with its ominous beat and sitar, “Vinushka,” comes in as anticlimactic as possible with an acoustic guitar beginning. This actually produces a better result as “Vinushka” proceeds to gradually build up its own emotional journey during its 9:37 duration. The building of tension and explosion into, perhaps DIR EN GREY‘s heaviest moment, is truly a perfect example of the band’s growth as songwriters and artists. “Red Soil” sounds best with the mandolin-like clean electric guitars and when the thrash riff kicks in with double bass drums as opposed to the nu-metal riff in the song. After the heaviness of Uroboros‘ three heavy songs, one of the album’s gems can be found in “Toguro.” The song is a great mix of TOOL and DIR EN GREY‘s atmospherics meeting head on. “Glass Skin” is a quality somber and light song and another example of DIR EN GREY‘s ability to write soulful Japanese-style rock songs. “Stuck Man” shows the band’s twisted side with its funk guitar riffs, nu-metal/math metal grooves, jazzy interludes, and Kyo’s free form vocal lines in the verses. Things get blacker and more violent with “Reiketsu Nariseba” that eventually builds momentum like a runaway train on fire. One thing that becomes evident at this point in Uroboros is that DIR EN GREY are fully intent on creating a roller coaster, bipolar experience as the song order never allows complacency nor predictability to take hold in the listener’s ears, mind, and emotions. After the savageness of the aforementioned track, they unleash one of their best melancholic Japanese rock-style ballads in “Ware, Yami Tote…” “Bugaboo” is briefly lifted out of total nu-metal redundancy and simplicity with a raging “real” metal song section complete with thrash beats.

The fourteen total tracks on Uroboros should provide more than enough quality content to satiate any fan. As a bonus for American fans, the album includes the Japanese versions of “Dozing Green” and “Glass Skin.” The best aspect of the album aside from the fact that there are virtually zero duds on it is the fact that band have improved as songwriters and have expanded the boundaries of their famous sound. While a sudden shift in style in unlikely in the future, the evolution on display here is what signals yet another triumph for DIR EN GREY. (The End Records)

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