If I could sum up Dir En Grey’s latest album, Dum Spiro Spero, with one word it would have to be this one: Evil. Dum Spiro Spero is definitely one evil sounding motherfucker of an album. If you’re unfamiliar with the musical stylings of Japan’s pre-eminent metallers, then DSS is the perfect introduction to their unique blend of metal, prog, and pop.
It’s this kind of mixture of styles that has worked so well for Dir En Grey over the years. Dum Spiro Spero starts off heavy, dark, and dirge-y then “Lotus” comes on and it’s this glimmering ray of hope amongst the carnage but just as soon as you’ve seen the light, the nine-minute plus “Diabolos” takes you back down into hell.
The thing that always gets me about Dir En Grey is the insane amount of musicianship contained within this madness. Take “”Yokusou Ni Dreambox” Aruiwa Seijuku No Rinen To Tsumetai Ame”, for example, and the frenetic bass mastery by Toshiya. Then there’s vocalist Ayo who can transition from a Mike Patton-style screech to a death metal growl to a full-on croon with no hesitation.
One problem I always encountered with Dir En Grey records, though, is their tendency to fizzle out towards the end. Not Dum Spiro Spero! Half way through the record, you’ll hit “Juuyoku” and be thrown on your ass all over again after the pummeling you got from “Different Sense”. And it keeps getting better from there.
As far as eighth albums go in a discography of standouts, Dum Spiro Spero is definitely a highlight and easily my favorite since I became a fan (Vulgar, their 4th from 2003, was my introduction to the band). After hearing this monster in its entirety, it’s easy to see why it was on my most anticipated list for the second half of 2011 and even easier to see it ending on my “Tops of 2011” list.
Dum Spiro Spero is available August 2nd through The End Records.