DIR EN GREY has always projected sorrow, pain, and aggression in their music. A theme they’ve carried right throughout the band’s lifetime. What I like about them is their ability to transition but remaining true to their original concept. The band’s 8th studio album “Dum Spiro Spero”, which literally translates to “While I Breathe, I Hope”, provides more evidence to the fact that DIR EN GREY’s music is ever timeless; this is rock undefined. A rare quality found in the industry. Each track symbolizes something of great meaning, whether it’s the recent event that took place in their homeland Japan, or from personal experiences faced by the members. There is great depth in the music and I couldn’t bypass a review of this fascinating album.
WARNING: If you are easily startled by grunts, screams, chaotic music, or unearthly sounds, then take caution if you are still interested in listening to this album.
“Kyoukotsu No Nari (The Cry from Lunatic Bone)” is so disturbingly good. You can truly feel the suffering from all the sounds in the background. It’s only an intro but already the album starts off on the right path. The music can only get better from here on out.
The next track, “The Blossoming Beelzebub”, sends chills up and down my spine. I like how dramatic and orchestrated this song is, especially with the vocalist’s operatic harmonies before leading into his earthshaking screams. The Beelzebub is another name for the devil, and it’s quite interesting that they’ve made reference to that with the purpose of this song and its title. It’s about the growing anger within humans and how we either unleash the hurtful behavior or suppress it for the greater good. Regardless, the Beelzebub is forever blossoming because like it or not, we’re all capable of doing some sort of cruelty to others or ourselves.
“Different Sense” is quite scary but at the same time beautiful, because it fuses both horror and beauty together. I also can’t get over the instrumental arrangements on this track; it’s absolutely breathtaking. The song’s about countless suffering and disaster, injustice, and never-ending wars. And just as how the track gives off a thought provoking vibe, the music video had me seriously thinking about what was taking place within it. The flashing backgrounds of grotesque images dazzled my eyes but I couldn’t afford to turn away, so as not to miss what was coming next. It was quite the entertainment but quite the enlightenment. See for yourself:
“Amon” surprised me, not only with the title but with the possessive music. This track was far too much for me because it had plenty going on, however, should I be presented with the opportunity to recommend a song for a thriller or horror movie, this would be at the top of my list. This song is just as creepy as the previous, but it takes creepy to a higher level. Let’s leave it at that.
“Yokusou Ni Dreambox” Aruiwa Seijuku No Rinen to Tsumetai Ame (Nesting Within the Dreambox’, or Cold Rain and The Philosophy of the Mature)” has a wonderful opening that quickly had me hooked. It starts out slow, picks up the pace by the middle, takes it back down, and speeds up by end. That’s a lot for just one song but I loved the indication of warmth and emotional turmoil throughout. I think it lives up well to its title because of how dreamlike the vocalist sung. I almost felt like my body was floating in the clouds.
Calling a song “Juuyoku (Animal Lust)” is just absurd but only DIR EN GREY could pull that off. This track sounded as if someone was being hunted down and slaughtered. The screams were terrifying; I think the band captured the sound of pain and distress exceptionally well in this one. It’s a good song but not something I’ll have on replay. “Shitataru Mourou (Trickling Ambiguity)” is a better choice for that. This track is one of my favorites on the album. I love the passion heard in Kyo’s voice and how deep the song takes its listeners. The grunts are haunting and well balanced, while the background is filled with echoing melodies.
“Lotus” was previously released in January and was re-mastered for the new album. This song, like all the others, carries deeper meaning that what I can ever interpret but everyone who listens will decipher their own meaning behind the song. I think it’s about being unable to forget your past hurts, holding on to memories involuntarily, and trying to revive something as beautiful as the “water lily” inside you. It’s a really moving song and I appreciate its creation.
“Diabolos” is one of the longest songs I’ve listened in a while but I have no issue with leaving it on repeat. The length doesn’t overshadow the intensity or how good this track is. There’s so much I can say about the song without getting down to the itty gritty, but from my perspective I think it’s about loneliness, longing for love, fearing devastation and pain. It also seems as if someone is searching for a persona in particular that can change their life forever. It stirs up a lot of emotion and that’s why I’m addicted to this track especially.
“Akatsuki (Dawn)” emphasizes on the sad and lustful behavior conducted in the dark, but how we put on our best when the sun rises. It’s almost like hiding our secrets in the light so as to not let the truth in the dark taint our image. I like the band has a tendency to make their songs sound almost soft and subtle but also edgy and angry all at once. Everything fits together perfectly. These guys are very talented.
The next track almost made my ears bleed but it also had my adrenaline going. “Decayed Cow” is as confusing as it sounds but I managed to figure one thing out, it’s definitely about non-existence and having no control. Kyo screams from start till finish that I almost became worried for his throat, but let’s be honest here, the end result is impressive.
“Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami (And Violence, Tangled in the Burning Darkness of my Heart)” was also revived for this album, as the track was released back in 2009 and included on the SAW 3D soundtrack. The song is about the longing sensation within the heart. Also, it’s as if not caring about how you look to others but wanting to satisfy your own burning desires.
“Vanitas” greatly depicts the feeling of emptiness, which it is translated to be. This song gives such a sad and lonely vibe, but what else is expected? It’s about losing something of tremendous meaning and now being drenched in the hurt and sorrow of not being able to find yourself or the one you love. The track takes on the concept of being lost in wonderland, isolated from everything happy and cheerful. This is the most soothing song on the record; there are no grunts or horrific musical arrangements. We’re simply left with a soothing atmosphere.
The ending is as magnificent as the beginning. “Ruten no Tou (Tower of Vicissitudes)” is like the soundtrack of a nightmare. I was enamored by the voices, which almost felt like hypnosis of the mind. I loved this song with a passion since my first listen and there’s no way I’m going back now. The song’s about reconstruction after something devastating has occurred. There was reference to the “vicissitude of seasons”, which is an example of being unable to make plans because various problems prevent you from doing so.
Overall, “Dum Spiro Spero” is a wonderful album and I commend DIR EN GREY for their amazing work. I’d also like to recognize the fact that they’ve made it to number two on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart. It’s amazing how music is appreciated regardless of language and culture. “Dum Spiro Spero” gets a rating of 4.9/5
Track listing:01. Kyoukotsu no Nari 02. The blossoming beelzebub 03. Different Sense 04. Amon 05. Yokusou ni Dreambox 06. Juuyoku 07. Shitataru Mourou 08. Lotus 09. Diabolos 10. Akatsuki 11. Decayed Cow 12. Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami 13. Vanitas 14. Ruten no Tou
(Purchase this album now on iTunes)