It’s been three long years since the release of Japanese alt-metal band Dir En Grey‘s eighth studio album, Dum Spiro Spero. Now, after a long wait, the longest in between their albums, the band has come back with Arche, which comes 17 years after their inception. It’s an album that fans, including myself, have been extremely excited for, especially after 2013’s EP, The Unraveling, which gave fresh flavor to old tracks.
In short, this album is pretty fantastic. It’s full of a wide variety of songs, from ballads (“Kukoku No Kyouon”, “Tousei”) to viciously heavy (“Uroko”, “The Inferno”). And even with such a dynamic album, one that takes the listener on a wild ride, each song is uniquely and distinctively Dir En Grey. After nearly two decades of music, the band has crafted such a specific sound, one that is attuned specifically to their style, and it’s exciting and thrilling to hear.
Each track offers fascinating usage of instruments and audio mixing, with guitars panning back and forth, the drums enveloping the listener. Truly, every member stands out, although I found myself particularly paying attention to bassist Toshiya and his flairs and embellishments.
For vocalist Kyo, it’s the eerily groovy “Phenomenon”, which sees the singer warbling and vibrating his voice in near inhuman manners. It’s possibly the most vocally diverse track and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is quite possibly the most versatile vocalist in the music industry today. He’s banshee, a demon, an opera singer, an angel… He’s all of the above.
I previously made mention of “Uroko”, a track that made me realize that only Dir En Grey can make blast beats sound like they’re part of a Church sermon, all over a backdrop of crunchy, chunky guitars. “Sustain The Truth” meanwhile is a great example of the band’s complex songwriting at work.
The Final Word: At nearly 70 minutes of music, Arche might be a heavy pill to swallow for some. But to those who seek something different and thrilling, Dir En Grey have produced an album that you shouldn’t miss.