I will stop short of calling Dir en grey’s new album UROBOROS their best ever, or EVAR!! because contrary to what I’m hearing from fans, it’s neither a return to the Dir of old nor is it something entirely fresh.
This is the same Dir we’ve had for the past couple of years, except this time they’ve brought a handful of new tricks into the fold, first and foremost of which, is the mix. This is without a doubt their heaviest CD to date and this is almost entirely due to the fact that Dir has learned from American bands like TOOL that boosting the rhythm section (bass and drums) and lowering the vocals makes everything sound darker and heftier. Listen to TOOL’s most recent album 10,000 Days if you need an example. (TOOL fans may in fact eat the fuck up this album. )
While this works to give Dir that final bit of edge they need to reach beyond jrock-friendly fans to straight up metal audiences, it tends to make the CD’ sound a bit too murky. Which is a shame because there are a lot of cool grooves and melodies hidden in this bog but all the songs start to sound the same, and I couldn’t help wishing they’d found a producer who could better translate their vision. Or that they had a slightly less musically dire one to start with.
All the new instruments the guys use really do add life to the songs (harpsichord, pan flute), and Kyo, as usual, has added a few more “characters” to his voice rolodex, but again, Dir en grey does no favors to their guest instruments by mixing them all with such mirthless dread.
A little brightness would have gone a long way. It’s still a kickass listen though.