Japanese Metal band "Dir En Grey" are celebrating fifteen years since their release of their debut record "Gauze" in 1999. "Arche" is Greek for origin but doesn't appear to signify any connection to the anniversary. The bands sound has changed and evolved over the eight albums and on this their ninth effort we hear a band come strong with a very defined and mastered sound they call their own, but how to describe Dir En Grey in relation to other forms of Metal is where things get interesting. Despite punchy, rattling drums, big distortion guitars and screaming, growling vocals they bare resemble any other Metal bands, mostly creditable to vocalists Kyo's impressive range and epic performances that a lot of the music focuses around. With hints of Post-Metal, Industrial, Hardcore, Metalcore, Nu metal and Alternative the band draw from many influences to create a refreshing sound they can call their own.
"Arche" is a lengthy seventy minute record of sixteen tracks that do not tire. The band deliver a continual barrage of big songs that sway between crafted aggression, atmospheric dissonance and captivating breakouts through Kyo's enigmatic presence. Having seen the band live several time I have always been astonished by how big and dominating his performances were live, and on this record I felt they captured a sense of that in some of the best moments the record offers. Kyo's screams go devilishly low and guttural, offering deep textures, see "Phenomenon", as well as providing a range of oddities, traditional screams and soaring high pitched leads that blur the lines between distinguishing gender. The language barrier ads another level of mystery to his persona, which really stole the show.
The instrumentals behind Kyo are finely crafted tunes that don't rely on any over emphasis or momentum to get their point across. Riff after riff play through with many ideas that on their own may lack a spark, but how they come together with the clanging bass and broad, hammering drums a vision is born. Coupled with eerie plucked strings and the occasional electronics, the music forges an identity that transcends its Metal aggression, each song often resembling the emotional content. There are some traditional leanings in the mix like "The Inferno" but for the most part Dir En Grey deliver the unexpected, unusual in an accessible style. A solid record that after countless listens I find myself still feeling its depth and character.
Favorite Tracks: Phenomenon, Rinkaku, Sustain The Untruth