I am smitten with the sound of Japanese artists Dir en grey (ディル・アン・グレイ) and can’t resist spreading the word about their diversified rock sound. I have purchased every studio album, just over seven hours worth of music. Their music is so varied that it never ceases to engage me. I decided to list thirteen great songs just for fun.
In keeping with the eclectic nature of their sound, the band follows no rules on spelling or grammar and I’ve decided to list them just as they appear in my iTunes folder. There are plenty of other greats spelled out in Japanese characters; I’m obviously sticking with Romaji titles for this purpose.
mazohyst of decadence ~ Crying babies added to the soundtrack make this hauntingly over-the-top in an Alice Cooper sort of way. I love it. What can I say? The organic instrumentals are chilling alongside Kyo’s often plaintive vocals. This nine minute mini-epic delivers from beginning to end.
AGITATED SCREAMS OF MAGGOTS ~ If the music weren’t great on its own, the sketchily drawn animated video for this broke the mold on offensive. I was instantly hooked when the visuals grossed out my partner. It’s impossible to play this one and not see that horrific maggot-man come to life.
Marmalade Chainsaw ~ The name alone recommends it. The shouting in alternate left/right input is disorienting. Hopefully, I’ll understand enough Japanese some day to know what Kyo’s crooning/growling/wailing.
egnirys cimredopyr +) an injection ~ Don’t ask me what that means. The endlessly varied vocalizations blow me away.
Spilled Milk ~ My favorite part is probably what sounds like church bells in the opening and then again toward the end.
Berry ~ The sinister, cartoony voice of a little American girl at the opening makes up for the fact that I can’t decipher any of the Japanese words through this tune. Every performer is on fire with the driving punk beat, further proof that Dir en Grey’s style cannot be tacked down. Additional English vocals midway through provide a domestic soundtrack from hell and a ricochet gunshot following Kyo's ending shriek is almost too quick to give you chills. Almost.
Gaika, Chinmoku Ga Nemurukoro ~ Drums! Growls. Screams! This has guitars that rock and lyrics I can’t yet decipher. Need I say more? Clearly, I’ve said both plenty and nothing.
Deity ~ Haunted house sounds open this tune and a suggestion of Indian influence underlies the scary noises with a melodic start before guitars blast through to take over. It’s rather reminiscent of Marilyn Manson’s early Spooky Kids performances.
Cage ~ A music box opening reminds me of another favorite Japanese group, the disbanded Malice Mizer, but the comparison ends there. Guitarists and percussionist do a great job of mimicking the sound until they back off for Kyo’s straightforward singing to take over.
Bottom of the death valley ~ The one word I recognize here is one to indicate something is very bad. Then a surprising middle riff defies that logic with a beautiful bluesy sound.
ROTTING ROOT ~ More great guitars and drum-work lead to greatly varied vocals. Kyo goes from a baritone croon to a warbling falsetto screech and fierce growly yell. He even lets out a few asthmatic gasps before totally strangling at the end. It's no wonder he's been hospitalized with inflamed vocal cords!
Audience Killer Loop ~ The start has an apocalyptic feel that morphs in astonishing ways through the piece.
THE PLEDGE ~ This is just a rich, decadent tune that shows off Kyo’s lyrical side. It also showcases the musicians’ talent for more euphonic harmonies as well as cutting-edge clamor.