Having formed back in Japan back in 1997 it has been a little while in coming, but The Marrow Of A Bone should see Dir En Gray securing their foot hold in the Metal world and continuing the success they started to find with their previous attempt Withering To Death.
Pinning them down to any kind of genre is actually pretty tough. Unlike many Western bands Dir En Gray seem content to flirt with genres both across the Metal scene and with plenty more outside of it too.
Opening track Conceived Sorrow is the perfect example. In the context of what follows it’s almost a red herring. Essentially a power ballad, complete with piano and long drawn out guitar riffs at the chorus; you’d be forgiven for holding your head in your hands. It’s something straight from the ’80s – the kind of thing the chart show would play when they had to play something from the Metal chart and Heart‘s Alone wasn’t an option. Even worse, vocalist Kyo seems given to the kind of overblown high-pitched vocal that can’t help remind us of Helloween when they were getting all serious.
Things take a dramatic turn for the better as soon as Lie Buried With A Vengence kicks into gear. Thrashy drumming, callous riffing, and barked vocals that culminate in a rampant outburst as Kyo bellow “Fuck You’re a Motherfucker!!” When Direngray are in this kind of mood you can see how word of mouth has propelled them towards the kind of status that fellow countrymen Mad Capsule Markets have achieved.
It’s not just the brutal riffs that impress of course. There’s plenty of depth across the whole album, and way Direngray flip from pop melodies across to hardcore, and then into power metal choruses is more often than not a joy to behold.
The switch between the punkish frenzy of Grief (a song that seems to thank AC/DC at one point, before banging on disconcertingly about headless bodies) and the pompous classic metal of Ryoujoko No Ame is startling. It’s perhaps these changes in pace and mood that make Dir En Gray such an exciting prospect.
Many bands will just plough the same furrow endlessly, creating songs that are practically impossible to distinguish from one another; few will give in to concepts such as melody. Direngray have obviously torn up the rule book, and it serves them well. How many other bands can go from a funk riff, to an introspective guitar melody before swinging into concrete slabs of riffs topped with vocals that sound like they’re the recordings of someone being suffocated in cellophane? Not many that’s how many.
The Marrow of a Bone should see this exciting and inventive band take another step towards world domination. I wonder if they’ll get their own action figures like the Mad Capsules?