They dress up like MARILYN MANSON rejects and sing in Japanese. Ya gotta hand it to anyone crazy enough to take a chance on this band, supposedly one of the biggest in the Land of the Rising Sun — I can't picture hordes of English-speaking kids flocking to this scattershot mixed bag of twisted, melodic metal, but stranger things have happened.
DIR EN GREY like to mix things up — take the third track, which sports a melodic chorus that would sound great on the radio, bookended by filthy distorted thrash parts and bellowed death metal vocals. Or track five — which comes up as a bunch of Japanese characters on my iPod — a syrupy AOR song with vocals smooth enough to bring FALCO back from the grave. There's jagged bits of punk, SLIPKNOT moments, silly chipmunk vocal parts, death metal bellows, and chunky riffs all thrown into a blender and set on "anime."
The whole thing just sounds a little too intentionally goofy and disjointed to these ears. The singer usually has a great, bombastic chorus to throw in, although he could well be using the same one for every song, but the rest of this is like some kind of neon snow globe. It's all flashy and distracting, but there's very little of substance behind it. It's their fifth album, and they've obviously got fans, no doubt attracted to the manic energy they admittedly exude. But after all the brash hoopla contained here, almost nothing sticks in your memory, and DIR EN GREY is consigned to novelty status.
Download "Dead Tree", and if you like it, imagine it doused in sugar and festooned with marshmallow bits. That's the rest of the songs. I freely admit that I may just not get it, but "Withering to Death" does absolutely nothing for me.