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Dir en Grey have become the top band of the post-visual kei era, especially for the Western audience -- in the 2000s they were arguably the most successful metal act without English lyrics since Rammstein (though they never rivaled the popularity of the Germans). The band began as a visual kei collective, too, but gradually moved to more reserved and darker attire and a separate sound that leaned on gothic rock, death metal, and the likes of Korn and Slipknot.
Dir en Grey was formed in early 1997, essentially the indie collective La:Sadies with a new bassist -- Toshiya -- and a new name that was supposed to carry no other meaning than to designate the band. They started off with the EP Missa (1997) that failed to stir things up much, but soon made themselves the talk of the country's music scene by becoming the first indie band to break into the Oricon singles Top Ten -- twice -- with Jealous and I'll in 1998. That brought them into the right hands: they attracted Yoshiki Hayashi, the drummer of the nation's prime metal act X-Japan and foster father to many a J-rock band, thanks to his Extasy Records label. Yoshiki produced all five singles that Dir en Grey released in 1999, and that propelled the band into the big leagues: after these singles were compiled for their debut album Gauze, Dir en Grey got signed by a major label.
Their second album, Macabre (2000), first signaled a drift away from their visual kei roots, living up to its name in mood and featuring an industrialized sound with screaming vocals. Following their first foreign tour in China, Taiwan, and South Korea, and another LP Kisou, in 2002 (number three on Japanese charts), Dir en Grey opted for more change: their EP Six Ugly (2002) drew heavily on Western metal influences, which upset part of their older fan base. Still, the band persisted, exploring the metalcore sound and the darker side of life on their albums Vulgar (2003, number six on the Oricon charts) and Withering to Death (2005, number eight on the Oricon charts). Those releases proved that the stylistic change had some merit, as Dir en Grey began to gain recognition in the Western hemisphere. In 2005 they charted in Europe for the first time, Withering to Death reaching number 31 in Finland (their single "Clever Sleazoid" would later rise to number 15 there). The band's popularity was initially founded on imports, web rumors, and illegal downloads, but that proved to be enough: in 2005 they debuted in Berlin and Paris and later played the German festivals Rock am Ring and Rock im Park. Withering to Death was released in Europe in November 2005, and in America in March 2006, preceding Dir en Grey's live U.S. debut in 2006. Soon after that, Kyo's vocal chords became strained, leaving him hospitalized, but he recovered in time for Korn's Family Values Tour, in which Dir en Grey participated.
The band's sixth full-length album The Marrow of a Bone was out in 2007, released in both Japan and America (it reached number seven on the Oricon charts), and Dir en Grey promoted it by touring the U.S., opening for Deftones at some of their shows. They also infiltrated Europe further, debuting in Denmark, Finland, Poland, Sweden, U.K., Holland, and Switzerland. Not forgetting their core audience, Dir en Grey toured Japan, as well, delivering a two-night show with Linkin Park, and doing a stint at the Hide memorial concert that also saw the appearance of X-Japan and Luna Sea, among others. The fall of 2008 saw the release of their seventh album, Uroboros, in Japan and America, followed by a U.S./Canada tour in November and December. IN 2009, despite extensive touring in Japan and Europe, the band released two concert DVDs (A Knot Of, and Tour '08: The Rose Trims Again) , and the video compilation DVD Average Blasphemy. In 2010, Dir en Grey co-headlined a North American tour with Apocalyptica, headlined their own Unwavering Fact of Tomorrow tour in Europe, and shared festival stages with the Stooges, the Cult, Korn, and numerous other bands. In January of 2011, the band issued the single "Lotus," followed in June by a second entitled, "Different Sense." Both tracks were included on their August 2011 full-length Dum Spiro Spero.
Dir En Grey (stylized as DIR EN GREY and previously as Dir en grey) is a Japanese metal band formed in 1997 and currently signed to Firewall Div., a sub-division of Free-Will. As of 2013, they have recorded eight full-length records with a lineup consistent since its inception. Numerous stylistic changes have made the genre of their music difficult to determine, though it is generally considered to be a form of metal. Originally a visual kei band, the band has opted for less dramatic attire in recent years.
Dir En Grey has toured through Asia, Europe, South Americ], and North America; Billboard commenting on the group's international fanbase, that the band "has transcended the language barrier in the United States through its music" and "gained its audience without singing in English".Mascia, Mike. "Dir En Grey feature interview". Blistering. Retrieved 2007-08-07. Brannigan, Paul (2008-11-19), "The Perfect Stranger", Kerrang!: 42–43 Titus, Christa (2006-04-17). "Underground Support Brings Dir En Grey to Forefront". Billboard. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
ContentsHistory1.1 1997–1999: Early career1.2 2000–2004: From Macabre to Vulgar1.3 2005–2006: Early non-Asian touring1.4 2007–2009: The Marrow of a Bone and Uroboros1.5 2010–2014: Dum Spiro Spero and The Unraveling1.6 2014-present: Arche
1997–1999: Early career
Dir En Grey was preceded by the independent rock band La:Sadie's, which included four of Dir En Grey's members before it disbanded. They disbanded due to leader and bassist Kisaki not wanting to debut as he felt that it was too soon, but guitarist Kaoru believed that they were ready for it. After parting ways with Kisaki, Kaoru, Kyo, Die and Shinya recruited bassist Toshiya, regrouped as a new band on 2 February 1997 and released their first EP, Missa, a few months later. According to Toshiya, the name "Dir En Grey" was chosen because it "sounded right," and is composed of words from several languages, so that people would not be able to attach a specific meaning to it other than the band's name itself. However, in another interview Kaoru said "At the time we chose the band name, it had some meaning but right now it doesn’t express the band anymore, so it has come to not mean anything specific. We chose the band name because it sounded right, and it also reflects an image that probably doesn’t exist elsewhere."
They first attracted mainstream attention in 1998 by entering the top ten on the Oricon music charts with the still independently produced songs "Jealous" and "-I'll-". Five subsequent singles, arranged and produced by X Japan co-founder Yoshiki Hayashi, were published during the first half of 1999, the band's first full-length record, Gauze, followed. One of the shows in support for the album (filmed at the Osaka-jo Hall) would later become the first of several live concerts to be released on VHS and DVD.
2000–2004: From Macabre to Vulgar
In 2000, vocalist Kyo was hospitalized with hearing trouble and several dates of the tour in support of Dir En Grey's then upcoming album, Macabre, had to be postponed. Tour 00 >> 01 Macabre eventually took off later the same year and was concluded at Nippon Budokan, shortly after the release of the single "Ain't Afraid to Die" in April 2001.
In the following year, along with the release of a third full-length album, Kisou, Dir En Grey gave their first performances abroad, touring China, Taiwan, and South Korea. Back in Japan, the last dates of the lengthy Rettou Gekishin Angya tour were already in support for the band's second EP, Six Ugly. In summer 2003, Dir En Grey performed at Akasaka Blitz for five evenings in a single week, with each show (except the first) themed after a certain album, the last featuring songs from the then yet to be released Vulgar. A DVD set, titled Blitz 5 Days, was later released exclusively for members of the band's official fan club, titled A Knot. Vulgar was released in September 2003, and tours in support for the record would last well into 2004.
2005–2006: Early non-Asian touring
In 2005, Dir En Grey performed in Europe for the first time. Their concerts in Berlin and Paris (as part of the It Withers and Withers tour) sold out without promotion, save for newsletters by import record stores and internet-based word of mouth. The band also performed at two major festivals, Rock am Ring and Rock im Park. Becoming more involved with the international music scene, they had French band Eths open for them at the Paris concert and invited American musician Wednesday 13 and his band to play at a show in Japan. Dir En Grey also appeared at the Japanese leg of that year's Taste of Chaos tour.
2005 saw the group's first official European releases as well, in the form of that year's album Withering to Death. The band's music had previously been available to fans not living in Asia through means of import and Internet file-sharing only. The album also managed to achieve Dir En Grey's first non-Asian chart position, reaching No. 31 in the Finnish album charts. The subsequent single, "Clever Sleazoid", later climbed to No. 15 on the singles charts in the same country. Several Dir En Grey songs were also featured in the soundtrack of the 2005 film Death Trance.
In early 2006 touring was expanded to the United States. The band performed in Austin, Texas at the South by Southwest festival, New York City at the Avalon Club and Los Angeles, California at the Wiltern Theatre, followed by the North American release of Withering to Death. Again, all shows sold out within days. After more concerts and festival appearances in Germany during the summer, singer Kyo was again hospitalized, due to inflamed vocal cords. While two concert dates in Japan had to be postponed, Dir En Grey was still able to join Korn's Family Values Tour 2006. In October, the band was back in Japan to perform at the Loudpark Festival, along with bands such as Megadeth, Slayer and Children of Bodom. Their 22nd single, "Agitated Screams of Maggots" was released on 15 November, during the Japanese leg of the Inward Scream tour. On 30 December, the music video for "Saku" was voted the No. 1 video of the year on the MTV2 show Headbanger's Ball.
2007–2009: The Marrow of a Bone and Uroboros
In February, Dir En Grey went on its first North American headlining tour, visiting sixteen cities, while its sixth full-length album The Marrow of a Bone was released on 7 February in Japan and in the United States and Europe in the following months. From May to July, the group opened for the Deftones on their United States tour, and afterwards did another European tour, which included their debut shows in Denmark, Finland, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as several festival performances across the continent, including Ankkarock, M'era Luna Festival, and Wacken Open Air.
The group went on another international tour in September, named after their most recent single "Dozing Green", beginning in Japan, and continuing in Europe, including their first performance in the Netherlands and Switzerland. In late November, Dir En Grey opened two shows for Linkin Park at Saitama Super Arena, and in December performed another Japan tour with 10 Years as support act. Commemorating Dir En Grey's tenth anniversary as a band, two greatest hits compilations, titled Decade 1998–2002 and Decade 2003–2007 respectively, were released on 19 December.
At the beginning of 2008, Dir En Grey announced plans to begin recording a new studio album. Their first touring of the year, in May, was another Japan tour with a conclusion of three shows at Shinkiba Studio Coast, titled Death over Blindness. Between touring, Dir En Grey performed at one night of the two-night hide memorial summit on May 4, alongside X Japan, Luna Sea, and others. A second Japanese tour, titled Tour 08 The Rose Trims Again began on 10 September, the same day as the release of their single "Glass Skin".
On 1 August, Dir En Grey announced the release of their seventh studio album, Uroboros, which was released on 11 November 2008 in the United States. The band also toured the United States and Canada in support of the album, with dates scheduled for November and December (overlapping the release of Uroboros) with opening act The Human Abstract. More touring that fall included a series of four shows titled Bajra, two being fan-club exclusive, and a single show on 29 December, under the moniker Uroboros -Breathing-, at the famous Osaka-jo Hall where Dir En Grey had not performed since 18 December 1999 (as seen on 1999.12.18 Osakajo Hall).
Beginning in 2009, Dir En Grey made their first thorough tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland with Kerrang!'s "Relentless Tour '09" alongside Mindless Self Indulgence, Bring Me the Horizon, Black Tide and In Case of Fire. In February, the band announced the public release of the live DVD, Tour 08 The Rose Trims Again, as well as switching European record labels to the newly founded Okami Records, a sister label of their former European representation, Gan-Shin.
During spring of 2009, the band began to fully promote Uroboros with a series of nationwide tours, under the title Tour 09 Feast of V Senses. The tour was interrupted briefly while in Sapporo and Sendai, with an announcement on the band's official website, explaining that Kyo had been diagnosed with edema of the larynx, and would require the postponement of three shows, which were rescheduled for early May.
Dir En Grey continued their Feast of V Senses tour in Europe, with a mixture of festival performances, headlining shows, and one co-headlining show with Killswitch Engage. The festival performances included their third appearances at Rock am Ring and Rock im Park, as well as their initial concerts at Download Festival, Nova Rock, and Metaltown. Among the headlining shows, Dir En Grey were also making debut concerts in Italy and the Czech Republic.
After several shows of their late-summer tour, All Visible Things, Dir En Grey announced their next single for December, "Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami", as well as a North American and South American tour also under the title All Visible Things. Their new single was released on 2 December 2009 and reached number 2 on the Oricon Weekly Chart: the highest position to date for the band.
Their 2009 tour season ended with a three-live tour titled Dorje. They finally ended their long Uroboros centered tour by doing two back to back performances at the Nippon Budokan, titled "Uroboros: with the proof in the name of living…", where tickets sold out in 15 minutes.
2010–2014: Dum Spiro Spero and The Unraveling
It was announced on 7 April 2010, that the band would be returning to the United Kingdom in August on the lineup for the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth, playing on a bill headlined by Iron Maiden and Rammstein. According to the festival website, this was to be their only UK festival performance during the year. Regarding the announcement, Kaoru (on the Sonisphere UK website) is quoted as saying "I'd never have thought that we would play a festival of this caliber! It is like a dream come true to be playing with such great bands at Sonisphere. Although we’re not back in the UK for a tour, we wanted to play this festival to give something back to the fans who were disappointed last year from our cancelled finale in London. We were really bummed ourselves to not play and are looking forward to playing a great show for all our fans. We'll also think up something special for this show as a way to show them our appreciation for waiting for us to come back. As at any festival, we are excited about playing for people who have never seen us before, and I hope they will be able to enjoy our show with our unique stage performance. It'll be something they’ve never seen before! It will be absolutely rewarding for us if they simply enjoy our performance.”
It was announced on 28 April 2010, that Dir En Grey would be playing an exclusive club date at London's Koko venue on 3 August as part of The Unwavering Fact of Tomorrow Tour 2010. Dir En Grey announced later on, that they also will do their debut performances in Russia by adding one show in Moscow at Tochka Club on August 5 and one show in St Petersburg at Glav Club on August 6. Dir En Grey also toured North America on a co-headlining tour with the Finnish band Apocalyptica with a special guest of Kyo interpreting the song "Bring Them to Light", one of the tracks of the cello-metalers latest record.
In September 2010, the band confirmed in an interview with Kerrang! magazine that they were in the process of writing new material for the follow-up to Uroboros. As well as appearing on the soundtrack of the American movie Saw 3D with their single, "Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami", they also participated in Romantist - The Stalin, Michiro Endo Tribute Album which is a tribute album celebrating the 60th birthday of The Stalin's frontman Michiro Endo, which was released on 1 December 2010. The album also featured bands such as Buck-Tick, Group Tamashii, Merry, Jun Togawa, and Wagdug Futuristic Unity.
The single "Lotus" was released on 26 January 2011, along with a new fan-club only tour named The Decomposition of the Moon, scheduled to run from 14 to 26 May. The band released "Different Sense" on June 22. Their eighth studio album, Dum Spiro Spero, was released on 3 August. Material from this album was showcased on the band's South and North American tour Age Quod Agis in November and December 2011.
In February 2012, following a doctor's visit, vocalist Kyo was diagnosed with vocal nodule dysphonia, leading to Dir en grey pulling out of the North American The Still Reckless Tour, consisting of Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Motionless in White, and I See Stars, as well as the cancellation of their own remaining Japanese headlining shows. Although Kyo had been hospitalized before in 2006 and 2009 for vocal inflammation, he had not required surgery until this time.
On 14 August 2012, Dir En Grey won the Extreme Metal Olympics organized by Loudwire.com, beating Death in the final. The band released the single "Rinkaku" on 19 December after their one year and a half hiatus since their previous single release. Also, a tour titled In Situ began on 25 December in Tokyo.
On 3 April 2013, they released their third EP, titled The Unraveling, with one new song and six rerecorded songs. Just a couple of days later, on 5 April, the band started their supporting tour Tabula Rasa for the new EP.
In June 2013, the band participated in a short European tour.
In September 2013, the band started their Ghoul tour, which ran from 18 September until 23 October in Japan and continued on 3 November in North America. The band also announced two back-to-back shows at the Nippon Budokan for March 2014 titled "Dum Spiro Spero" along with a new single, "Sustain the Untruth", which was released in January 2014.
During the month of August in 2014, the band celebrated the 15th anniversary of their debut album, Gauze. During this time, they embarked on a Japanese tour titled Tour14 Pyschonnect: Mode of "Gauze"?, similarly named after the tour they held back in 1999 in support of the album.
On 5 August 2014, it was announced that Dir En Grey's ninth album, Arche (Greek for "origin") would be released on 10 December 2014, and accompanied by the 2014-2015 tour By the Grace of God."Dir En Grey". Spirit of Metal. Retrieved 2009-06-14. Cage (2009-06-11). "Dir En Grey". Jame World. "All about Dir En Grey", Yarouze (TJ Mook), 1999-10-02: 23, ISBN 978-4-7966-1613-3 Steven's Untitled Rock Show (Fuse), 2007-02-27 Cite error: The named reference blistering_deg was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Jurek, Thom. "The Marrow of a Bone review". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Single chart positions". oricon.co.jp. Retrieved 2007-08-07. Reesman, Brian (2006-11-30). "Kabuki Rock". grammy.com. Retrieved 2007-09-24. "Finnish chart positions". finnishcharts.com. Retrieved 2008-07-07. "Credits for Death Trance". imdb.com. Retrieved 2007-08-07. La Franco, Robert. "Japanese Invasion". wired.com. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Family Values Tour 2006 lineup announcement". blabbermouth.net. 2006-04-18. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Loud Park 2006 lineup". loudpark.com. Retrieved 2007-08-07. Bowar, Chad. "The Marrow of a Bone review". about.com. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Inward Scream U.S. leg announcement". blabbermouth.net. 2006-11-11. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Dir En Grey' cross the USA". (January 2007) Newtype USA. Vol. 6 No. 1 p. 19. "Deftones tour dates announcement". blabbermouth.net. 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2007-08-07. "Planet-Loud interview". planet-loud.com. Retrieved 2007-12-03. "hide memorial summit". hide-city.com (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-04-29. "Dir En Grey、シングル「Glass Skin」に続き、約2年ぶりとなるニュー・アルバム『Uroboros』が発売決定！" (News update). music.yahoo.co.jp (in Japanese). Yahoo Japan Corporation. 2008-08-01. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-01. "DIR EN GREY : DIR EN GREY、「GLASS SKIN」に続き、新アルバム『UROBOROS』 / BARKS ニュース" (News article). barks.jp (in Japanese,). Aitimedia, Inc. 2008-08-02. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-05. Jacob. "Dir En Grey North America Tour" (News archive). jame-world.com. Asian Music Entertainment. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-12. "Postponement of Sendai & Sapporo shows". direngrey.co.jp. Smith, Tom (2010-04-28). "Dir en Grey to Play London in August". NEO Magazine. Uncooked Media. Retrieved 2010-04-29. "Apocalyptica - Bring Them To Light - World Premiere - Live from Club Nokia, Los Angeles CA". 2010-09-09. Retrieved 2010-09-09. "Dir en grey start work on new album". 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2010-09-24. "Romantist - The Stalin, Michiro Endo Tribute Album -". cdjapan.co.jp. Retrieved 2011-10-06. New single LOTUS 2011.01.26 release orchestrated-chaos.com. Retrieved 2011-07-29. New single DIFFERENT SENSE 2011.06.22 release orchestrated-chaos.com. Retrieved 2011-07-29.  Lee, Casey. "DIR EN GREY vocalist diagnosed with voice disorder". Yahoo!. "Dir En Grey Capture Gold Medal in Extreme Metal Olympics". Loudwire. New Mini Album 『The Unraveling』 2013.4.3 Release Dir En Grey New Single Rinkaku - + Tour 2012 In Situ "Tour 2013 Tabula Rasa". "Dir en Grey to Visit Europe". JpopAsia. "Tour 2013 Ghoul". "Tour 2013 Ghoul North America". "DIR EN GREY Trailer [2013.9.19]". http://direngrey.co.jp/tour/1152/ "New Album from Dir en grey". JaME World. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
Dir En Grey has been categorized in many genres such as extreme metal, alternative, experimental, avant-garde and various others. Dir En Grey's format has been subject to change throughout their career, initially being a rather experimental form of alternative rock. Some tracks of their debut album Gauze also demonstrated a distinct pop appeal, which was largely dropped in favor of a more progressive sound on the following albums, Macabre and Kisou. While up to that point some songs had already been more fast-paced, raw and aggressive than others, the band's music took a decisive turn with the release of the EP Six Ugly, from then on sporting more metal influences in general. Dir En Grey's style has since gravitated towards riffs and song structures more along the lines of contemporary North American fusion genres, such as nu metal and metalcore, though their album, Uroboros, sees them return to the more experimental and oriental sound of their earlier albums. Since its release many sources have begun classifying Dir En Grey as progressive metal. In a review of their sixth full length album, The Marrow of a Bone, Allmusic comments on their evolution and diversity, saying:
Kyo's singing is considered a pivotal aspect of the band, and he has gained recognition for his distinctive vocal work and for his large range and versatility, being able to "howl, croon, emote cleanly, scream, shriek, growl, bellow, and make nearly inhuman sounds", and he has been compared favorably to singer and avant garde metal musician Mike Patton. All lyrics are written by Kyo and deal with subjects such as society, mass media as well as sexual obsessions and love, usually with negative implications. The vocabulary varies from subtle to explicit and several songs rely heavily on double entendres and other wordplay, often involving the multiple meanings of a kanji character."Marrow of a Bone > Review by Thom Jurek". Allmusic. "Uroboros > Review". Stewart, Brian; Sakuma, Takako. "Lyrics translations with notes". centigrade-j.com. Archived from the original on 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-08-07.
The members of Dir En Grey are credited with their given or stage names, with the names of Kyo (京) and Kaoru (薫) usually being written in kanji.Kyo – lead vocalsKaoru – guitar, backing vocalsDie – guitar, backing vocalsToshiya – bass, backing vocalsShinya – drums, percussion
Scream for the Truth
On 1 August 2011, Dir en Grey released an open letter on their official Facebook that accused the Japanese government of lying to its people and hiding the true danger of the radiation levels after the nuclear accidents caused by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. In October, the band launched a campaign called Scream for the Truth, complete with a website and a billboard hanging in Times Square in New York City, in hopes of stopping the alleged misinformation and getting correct numbers.DIR EN GREY's SCREAM FOR THE TRUTH Campaign jame-world.com Retrieved 2011-10-05. DIR EN GREY Bring their Potent Message "Scream For The Truth" to Times Square puregrainaudio.com Retrieved 2011-10-05.