DIR EN GREY (from left to right: Kaoru, Toshiya, Kyo, Shiniya, Die)

Listening to DIR EN GREY'S new Album 'PHALARIS' for the first time

By bluekasumi | AoiKasumi | 18 Jun 2022

The japanese rockband DIR EN GREY realeased their 11th album PHALARIS on June 15th 2022. Their genre is a mix of progressive metal, extreme metal,
alternative Metal, deathcore or simply J-rock (japanese rock music) and they have been active since 1997 originating from Osaka, Japan. Personally I have been listening to DIR EN GREY since late 2004, have seen them in concerts three times and know their discopgraphy fairly well. So, as a longtime listener, I was curious about their latest development. I'm not a musician, so I can only give you my opinion as a listener. Also, even though I'm not mentioning each members part, I appreciate the talents of Kyo (vocals), Die (Guitar), Kaoru (Guitar), Toshiya (Bass) and Shiniya (Drums).
Let's get into the eleven tracks of PHALARIS!

Listen to the album on Spotify: DIR EN REY - PHALARIS

Track 1. Schadenfreude
A dark roaring leads to soft guitar sounds and than to heavy guitars riffs. Kyo sings in a high pitched voice and the music excalates into fast paced guitars and drums accompanied by Kyo's growls. After a dramatic guitar solo the song returns to a beautiful melody carried by Kyo's soft singing. The song switches between calm melancholic melodies and hard and fast drums and screams. With 9:58 minutes, it is the longest song on the album an has multiple twists and peaks. 'Schadenfreude' shows a musical spectrum that is very characteristic of Dir en grey. 8/10 Listening to the song only one time won't be enough to grasp every aspect of it.

Track 2. Oboro
Oboro starts with a pulsating bass sound and minimalistic piano melody with Kyo's voice slowly leading into the song. Than the guitars join and the tension is bulding up further until the abrupt first climax where the whole band joins in. Violins are also added and a beautiful harmonious guitar solo.
Nearing the end all elements of the song come together. It's 10/10 for me. This song will stay ringing in your head.

Track 3. The Perfume of Sins
The song starts with growls and speed metal. Kyo sing in a low voice than switches to growls and screams together with more variations. The music goes from hard and fast to very heavy and deep, which is a strong contrast. 7/10 This song makes you feel like a guest at a hellish underworld party.

Track 4. 13
The song '13' has an unexpectedly fast start that made me go 'wow'. A lot is happening even in the first 20 seconds. This song seems to bring innovation to Dir en grey's repertoire. The middle part has a very intense guitar solo that leads to equaliy intense and melodic singing of Kyo. The 3:42 minutes of the song are fully packed end passes by really fast. 10/10 This is song felt very fresh!

Track 5. Utsutsu, Bouga wo Kurau
The intro has a very interesting guitar melody with rhythmic breaks. Kyo's alternates his voice between light and innocent and dark and low until he changes it to a more natural singing voice. Later on while the instrumental is very heavy and follows the same rhythm the singing has something ceremonial about it with repeating lyrics. 8/10 Unconventional song with a very diverse singing performance.

Track 6. Ochita Koto no Aru Sora
The song starts very solid with strong guitars and aggresive singing and screaming. While the music remains strong Kyo's singing becomes softer midway. A loud bass with underlying melody leads to the end that once again is really intense with massive growls and screams. 9/10 Very good metal song to chant along to.

Track 7. Mouai ni Shosu
The instrumental is very heavy from the start and Kyo is singing with different voices. Nice Bass and Guitar solo midway through the song. The song has overlapping layers of Kyo's singing and screaming as well as chanting. 7/10 A fast paced ride into dark realms.

Track 8. Hibiki
Hibiki makes an entry with organ music and accoustic guitars and builts up to powerful guitars and instrumental. Kyo's singing voice alternates between medium and high pitched. The song combines the soft and emotional melody with strong and dramatic rock music. 10/10 Hibiki is a beautifully angelic and powerful song.

Track 9. Eddie
This is the heaviest song with a constant and fast paced instrumental, growls and screams. Definitely a song perfect for headbanging. I can vividly picture the crowd going wild if this song was played at a live concert. 8/10 Because it is a very solid metal song.

Track 10. Otogi
Otogi starts dark and mysterious leading to a solid instrumental that establishes a dramatic melody that will easily stay ringing in your had. The middle part is strongly carried by Toshiya’s bass and Shinya’s drums. The strong vocals carry the song towards the songs climate. 10/10 Very catchy and addicting melody.

Track 11. Kamuy
The final and second longest song on the album with 9:11 minutes starts as a slow ballad with accoustic guitars and Kyo singing softly to the instrumental. Kamuy has a fulminant and dramatic climax that concludes the 11th album very beautifully. 10/10 Dir en grey's long and emotional ballad songs never disappoint. Kamuy is a song to get fully immersed into.

DIR EN GREY's 11th album PHALARIS definitely has some new gems and is also mixed well with both hellish and intense metal songs and mysterious, beautiful rock ballads, short, fast paced tracks and longplayers full of variety. They stayed true to their signitarue sound, but each album is still very distinctively different, so If you enjoyed their music, I would definitely recommend checking out their previous works as well.

Also published here: medium.com/@aoikasumi

~ AoiKasumi

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