Why I Love… Dir en grey

I have very eclectic tastes in music.  For example, currently in my stereo (yes, I still use CDs!) are Lovedrive by Scorpions, Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B minor with Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and the soundtrack to Princess Mononoke, and I have two slots left to fill.  We’ll see what ends up in there after Princess Mononoke finishes.  I’m thinking some Juno Reactor at the moment, or perhaps Enigma…the new age, group, not to be confused with Elgar’s Enigma Variations.  😉

With all the music I listen to and play, I am often asked by both musicians and non-musicians alike, why I like or love certain bands.  There really is no simple answer to this question, but it sure makes for one heck of a blog topic!  So, without further ado, I present to you the first in a series:  Why I Love…

And first up are none other than the Japanese metal band, Dir en grey.

Now, I know those of you that read this who also happen to be Diru fans will stop me right there and say, “Dir en grey are metal NOW, but not ten years ago!”  and you are correct.  However, when I first got into them was right after they released Withering to Death. which means they were metal when I first heard them, so my association with Diru is always metal.

Dir en grey started in the late 1990s when members of the band La:Sadie’s (Kyo, Kaoru, Die, and Shinya) parted ways with their bassist Kisaki (don’t feel badly for him; Kisaki went on to become bassist for Phantasmagoria and head of Under Code Productions) and hired bassist Toshiya.  This lineup has not changed since, and that’s one of the main reasons I love them.  Just watching them play live, you can tell that the five of them have been playing together FOREVER and know how to communicate and play off of each other with just a glance.  Within two years of starting as Dir en grey the band went major, and arrived in style with three debut singles all produced by Yoshiki of X Japan.

Dir en grey began as a visual kei band, like most of the bands I listen to, but they never fell into the “sound” that a lot of vis-kei bands adopt.  Diru change their sound with every album.  Missa, their first release, is definitely 90s visual kei.  Gauze, their major debut, has a bit of a harder edge to it except for the songs Yoshiki produced, but remains more pop-like than the rest.  Macabre (my personal favorite) is stylistically all over the place.  Kisou is very experimental and has a lot of electronic elements.  Six Ugly, a mini-album, turns more towards hard rock.  Vulgar, considered their final “visual kei” album, is unquestionably hard rock.  Withering to Death. is metal with melodic choruses.  The Marrow of a Bone is their harshest album to date, undeniably influenced by their time on the Family Values Tour in 2006 with Korn and the Deftones, among others, and just screams metal, with the exception of one GORGEOUS ballad.  UROBOROS, their most recent album, is like an amalgamation of all those before it.  Their most recent single, “hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamituita shakunetsu no yami” is death metal, but only Diru know what their next full album will include.

Why did I bother to explain all that?  It’s another reason I love them.  Over the course of their 11 year history as a band, Dir en grey continuously evolve and rarely do the same thing twice.  There are fans out there who believe Diru should go back to their vis-kei days, but I disagree.  I think that they recognized they were trying to fit into a genre where they did not belong.  Diru have consistently said that they just do what they want to do as a band, and that works for them.  They are fortunate to be able to express themselves and have a supportive fanbase while backed by a major label.  (Free-Will itself is independent, but deals with Dir en grey through Sony according to this.)

Another thing I love about this band is their songwriting capabilities.  They stopped individually crediting the songs after Six Ugly so I only have a guess here and there as to who the main creative force is behind each song, but that does not matter for anything other than my sheer curiosity.  I cannot describe the breadth of sounds and details they manage to include, nor the stylistic differences contained in just one album.  Here’s a list, go check out the following songs online:

Cage

[KR] Cube

Hotarubi

kigan

24 ko cylinder

embryo

Mr. Newsman

The IIID Empire

Red[em]

kasumi

fukai

Jesus Christ R’N’R

The Final

Machiavellism

Lie Buried With a Vengeance

Grief

namamekashiki ansoku, tamerai ni hohoemi

Vinushka

toguro

hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamituita shakunetsu no yami

While all of them contribute to the music, Kyo is the sole lyricist of the band, and his poetry makes me want to be fluent in Japanese so I can understand all the double meanings.  Many of his lyrics deal with dark and disturbing subjects in order to shed some light on them, not as shock value.

The last reason I will list is a bit of a personal story.  I saw Dir en grey live for the first time when they came to NYC on their showcase tour in March 2006, and when I found out they were on Family Values Tour that summer I just had to go.  It just so happened that the weekend of FVT a hurricane passed by and rouged up the ocean, which caused the venue, Jones Beach Amphitheater to flood.  The concert was subsequently canceled as we were all there, only one act before Diru were to take the stage.  Despite the wind, rain, cold, and flooding, Die and Toshiya still did the meet and greet they were scheduled to do for fans who bought stuff at the merch booth.  That in and of itself made the entire day worth it.  They are a band who reach out to their fans and fellow musicians (they’ve donated a large sum of money to One Love For Chi for the Deftone’s bassist, as one example) and never let others’ expectations dictate what they do.

Keep rockin’, Dir en grey, and I’ll keep listenin’.

~ by violarockstar on July 4, 2010.

One Response to “Why I Love… Dir en grey”

  1. Asking questions are really pleasant thing if you are not understanding something entirely, however this article gives nice understanding yet.

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