Dir en grey (DIR EN GREY/Dir en grey) is a Japanese five-piece Avant-Garde Metal band. They formed around 1996 as a Visual Kei band, but have gone in a more contemporary, post-Visual Kei direction as far as appearance. Musically, Dir en grey encompasses Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Nu Metal, Gothic Metal, etc. They first gained attention in 1998 with two independently produced singles. Subsequently, they caught the eye of Yoshiki from X Japan, who helped arrange and produce the singles of Dir en grey's first studio album, and subsequently signed them to Extasy Records. Later on, they would switch labels to Dynamite Tommy's Free Will Records, and then sign to both Gan-Shin for their European releases and The End Records for their American releases. Their material is released by Firewall Div, a sub-division of Free-Will Records, Since their inception, the quintet has released eight full-length studio albums, three EPs, and loads of other material, including singles, live videos and music video compilations.Considered by some metal fans as the Spiritual Successor to the legendary bands Faith No More and (arguably) X Japan, the band has gained international acclaim for their uniquesound, precise, dynamic musicianship, dark, explicitlyricalthemes, near-incomprehensible songwriting and convention-challenging image, and enjoys continuous success as one of Japan's biggest Visual Kei groups. They were part of the Second wave of Visual Kei bands and were one of the bands responsible for re-establishing Visual Kei as a musical movement among Heavy Metal artists.They are currently writing a new album, which is due out November of 2014. Listeners better prepare themselves to see what tricks they have up their sleeve next. The title for the album is Arche.
Toshiya often plays the bass vertically between his thighs, with his body contorted in a slightly awkward, serpentine fashion. Also, on the song "Obscure", he has a habit of swinging his bass while spinning.
Cluster F-Bomb: Some of the songs with English lyrics from The Marrow of a Bone have this.
Also, prevalent in "The Domestic Fucker Family" from Kisou.
Costume Porn: During their early days as a VK band. Downplayed to the point of aversion in recent years, though Toshiya and Shinya look noticeably more visual than the rest of the band in most photoshoots. The band brought back visuals since the UROBOROS era, however, they've put more emphasis on Badass clothing and darker, more stripped-down styles than full-on Visual Kei.
Don't Try This at Home: For career singers, Kyo's vocal style - unless you want a short career with repeated injuries to your vocal cords and eardrums. It's far better you find an actual vocal coach or teacher, and if you can't or don't want to go that route, to at least practice with singers that have done so and that know proper technique to not injure themselves repeatedly note A few VK/Jmetal singers with said technique are Ryuichi of Luna Sea post The Nineties, Yama-B ex Galneryus currently with Gunbridge, and Demon Kogure of Seikima II, the first two being vocal teachers themselves . Also, trying to sing through pain like Kyo does is a very bad idea that can leave your voice permanently and irreparably damaged. It's much the singing equivalent of trying to teach oneself drums from pre-1995 Yoshiki.
Elegant Gothic Lolita: The band, especially Toshiya and Shinya pulled off the look really well during the band's early years. Shinya arguably did a better job at it than Trope MakerMana ever did.
Follow the Leader: Many other J-rock bands who were part of the second wave of VK have tried copying their formula, including those who worked under former bassist and leader Kisaki's UNDER CODE PRODUCTION label, but none have achieved the same level of success. In fact, many of the bands who worked under Kisaki's wing have broken up or changed styles. Those that did achieve success (The Gazette, exist†trace and Girugamesh, and a few others) have also established their own image and sound.
Apparently, this trope was the reason why the band opted for a post-Visual kei image, as Toshiya said in a 2010 interview:
"To be honest, when we first started and we were wearing a lot of makeup on stage and stuff, there were a lot of bands doing that at the time in Japan, and people thought it was cool. But not anymore...The music was so unique, too...bands like X Japan. At that time, there weren't any two bands that sounded alike; these days everyone sounds exactly the same."
Early in the band's career, the members themselves were clones of other artists: Kyo was considered an expy of Kuroyume vocalist Kiyoharu. and Toshiya's Gothic Lolita image was considered by some fans to be inspired by ex-bassist Kisaki.
Friendly Rivalry: The reunited X Japan and Dir en grey have one. It's a lot less friendly on the fandom side, however.
Genre-Busting: The band challenges all the conventions of Japanese rock/metal by being a cut above the established tropes. In a Kerrang! interview, Kaoru once stated that, while they were still La:Sadie's, they were more of an unlistenable noise band than anything else, justifying the aforementioned statement. Indeed, as La:Sadie''s they had such a weird sound that they can only be vaguely described as "experimental/alternative melodic noise rock". It seems the only sub-genre of metal they haven't yet covered is Power Metal, but there's still time yet.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: "egnirys cimredopyh +) an injection" from MACABRE Read the first part backwards. Japanese law forbids the mention of syringes and needles.
"Mitsu to tsuba" from GAUZE. It translates to "honey and saliva", but since the kanji (the japanese characters) are printed backwards, it's assumed to be read as "Tsumi to batsu", which means "crime and punishment".
Gratuitous Rape: The lyrics and video of "OOBSCURE", "Agitated Screams of Maggots", and "Different Sense", the latter two of which featured tentacle rape. The lyrics of "Tsumi to Batsu", which is an entire song about rape. "Different Sense" could be argued to be symbolism (the TEPCO nuclear disaster being equated to a rape of the world) and Rape as Drama, but it still is a very close call as to whether the rape imagery from tentacle hentai was necessary for the symbolism.
Iconic Logo: The name of the band, stylized in all caps and in big, bold letters. As of 2013, they have adopted a sleeker, more modern typeface similar to The Gazette and (coincidentially) to Khanate's respective logos, as seen in The Unraveling.
Indecipherable Lyrics: Early attempts at English lyrics came out completely garbled by Kyo's accent. Kyo also has a habit of belting out even his Japanese lyrics while under emotional duress, so any blubbering or raucous behaviour is gonna make him slur his words.
Impossible Hair Color: Every single member of the band, at one point or another. Kyo had gone through more hair color changes than anyone else in the band, ranging from black, brown, blonde, orange, red and even bright pink◊.
The title track from The Unraveling ends with the final measures of the song throwing the instrumentations into utter chaos.
Lead Bassist: Toshiya is a Type C and Type D/borderline Type A.
Long Runner Line Up: The last major change happened around 1997, after the La:Sadie's era, when Toshiya took Kisaki's place as bass guitarist after parting ways with the latter.
Justified by the fact that every single member considers the band as highly important.
Long Title: There are several examples of this when their titles are translated into English, including "Room 304, Cherry Blossoms of White Death" and "Tragedy is the Sweet Melancholy That Lowers Your Eyelids", but the longest one falls to "The Violence and the Darkness of the Burning Heat Entwines in My Heart". The Japanese title? "Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka De, Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami", the lead single from DUM SPIRO SPERO
Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Everyone in the band has sported this look at one point. Shinya plays this straight all throughout the band's history.
Loudness War: Pretty much all their discography has songs that are brickwalled to an extent, but the original version of UROBOROS and the 2013 EP The Unraveling fell prey to atrocious mixing, especially the latter, where the drums sound excessively clipped and the bass drowned out the guitars.
Their more recent live shows are brickwalled as well. It was reported that their 2013 show in Hollywood was a droning wall of noise, with instruments rendered indistinguishable from another. However, the opening band, while retaining the volume, was crystal clear in quality. Others have reported similar issues with their Irving Plaza 2013 live show.
Lyrical Dissonance: Kyo makes a point never to write happy lyrics. This has done nothing to prevent Kaoru and Die from giving him some pretty bouncy material to sing over. "Jessica," "Audrey," "Youkan," and Shinya's "Umbrella" are particularly notable examples.
Man of a Thousand Voices: Kyo. Fans draw comparisons to the legendary Mike Patton, due to their eerily similar vocal range, despite the two being on opposite sides of the world.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Though Kyo is known for being a mean, evil and Ax-Crazy guy during concerts, he is a completely different person offstage, being nice, very polite and respectful during interviews. He also likes having fun and had his fair share of comedic moments as well.
Some fans lucky enough to meet him have reported him being very shy and reserved off-stage.
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They've covered everything from a 1 to an 11. However, most of their songs range from a soft 6 ("Dozing Green") to a very hard 9 ("Different Sense"), with their lighter songs typically in the 4-5 range.
Mood Whiplash: The Marrow of a Bone starts off with a soft power ballad, is followed by several ultra-aggressive metal songs, and while the album does soften slightly from "Agitated Screams of Maggots" onward, it never has another ballad again. The transition can be very unsettling and startling to the unsuspecting listener.
Kyo would suddenly throw screaming fits on seemingly "normal" songs. Take for example, "Obscure", which starts off as an ambient tune but shifts rapidly into Deathcore once the screams kick in. Also, the Last Note Nightmare in "Dozing Green".
Rearrange the Song: While the band has been adept at remixing their own songs and re-arranging them for live performances, the single for Hageshisa to, ..." was the moment they began releasing re-recordings of their older songs. THE UNRAVELING'' is almost entirely re-recorded songs.
Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Zigzagged. No surprise since their visual style is just as varied as their music. Currently inverted, in regard to their public image of being "cute, handsome, wealthy metal rockstars" anyway.
Screams Like a Little Girl: Kyo. He is particularly infamous among cover vocalists because of how perfect his screeching-high screams are, as well as how often he uses the technique.
Signature Style: Most of their songs, especially their newer material, are in Uncommon Time and written in unusual key signatures. The band members themselves add their own elements that make their sound even more unique: the contrast between Kaoru's twangy melodies and Die's chromatic, palm-muted riffing, Toshiya's heavily downtuned basslines, Shinya's bizarre drum patterns and Kyo's extreme vocal ability have become staple traits of their overall sound.
Spiritual Successor: They are literally this to Kuroyume, having had taken their predecessors' Darker and Edgier approach to Visual Kei and running off with it so that they can popularize Avant-Garde Metal in the scene. And that's not mentioning the fact that they have a vocalist that is both a near-perfect double for and has very good relations with Kuroyume frontman Kiyoharu.
The Unintelligible: Some of Kyo's more inhuman sounds and his English tend to be this. Honestly, listen to "Dozing Green" from UROBOROS. Would you believe every word of that song is in English? There is also a Japanese version of "Dozing Green", but it's hard to tell the difference. Even worse than "Dozing Green" is "Glass Skin" from the same album. It's sung in completely unintelligible English.
This overlaps with Loudness War when badly mixed live - good luck trying to even tell what song the band is playing without a setlist or where one ends and another begins at some points. Or to hear individual instruments or Kyo's vocals.
Troll: The fandom is infested with them. They troll the band, who trolls them back, which prompts more trolling, ad nauseum. This poses a problem when outsiders from other fandoms (who possess less tolerance of trolling) jump onto the band's forums, leading to all-out Flame Wars due to taking trolling at face value. It gets stickier when some of the trolls actually mean their venomous hatred.
Unlimited Wardrobe: The band completely changes their appearance with every new release. That includes their singles.
Visual Kei: Played straight up until the mid-2000s, inverted at one point, and heavily zigzagged since then; though they might not look too Visual in recent years, they still have strong ties to the scene, still appeal to the same subculture (and at the same time reaching out to non-VK fans) and, more importantly, still put effort into achieving an awesome image and sound.
They went for full Eroguro kei during the Tabula Rasa and Ghoul tours, especially during the latter, with Kyo's new zombified image (complete with corpse paint and fangs), Die's return to a Visual Shock-inspired mullet and heavy makeup, Shinya going for a full Bifauxnen look and all of them (especially Toshiya, Kyo and Kaoru) wearing ominous robes during some songs.