Release Date: Aug 2, 2011
Record label: The End
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal, Experimental Rock, Progressive Metal, Death Metal, Speed/Thrash Metal, Japanese Rock
Experimental metallers Dir En Grey are Japan’s very own Into Eternity—their music is eclectic and hard to classify into any one sub-genre—except that they have the added fangirl-ish oomph of flashy appearances, thanks to their visual-kei roots. Being the eighth full-length studio album in the band’s illustrious career thus far, Dum Spiro Spero (which is Latin for “While I breathe, I hope”) is yet another scintillating record to add to the quintet’s already impressive and extremely collectible portfolio. If there’s one thing you gotta love about modern Japanese musicians—whether they play pop, rock or metal—it has got to be their iconic brand of clean singing.
Dum Spiro Spero, the eighth full-length studio offering by Japan's Dir en Grey builds considerably on the musical frontiers established 2008's Uroboros. At this point in their career, it's simply inaccurate to call Dir en Grey a metal band, though they use plenty of it to get their unique, ambitious meld of styles across. While the pre-release singles "Different Sense" and "Lotus" offer somewhat accurate portraits of the sounds employed on Dum Spiro Spero, they're really only an aural sample of what's on offer.
Dir en grey are still way ahead of the game... Our descent into the world of madness begins surreptitiously enough with an unsettling journey into darkness of ‘Kyoukotsu No Nari’ before the dour ‘The Blossoming Beelzebub’ wrenches the tension tight on its way up from Hell. The Devil finally takes a hold on ‘Different Sense’ and we’re off on a satisfyingly challenging, perpetually writhing musical beast that sees Dir en grey at their best.
These arty Japanese rockers say they sought to impart a hopeful vibe on Dum Spiro Spero in an attempt to fortify their countrymen following March’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Judging from the slithering jab-and-pummel of cuts like “Juuyoko” and “Shitataru Mourou,” though, Dir En Grey were more interested in depicting Mother Nature’s unpredictable temper: These ominous minor-key workouts routinely change direction on a dime, not unlike a tornado or a hurricane. You do get the occasional wisp of wonder from frontman Kyo’s high, searching vocals, as in the strangely beautiful “The Blossoming Beelzebub.” But its calm precedes a discomfiting storm.