DIR EN GREY: Withering to death. (2005)

Iconic Albums: DIR EN GREY—Withering to Death.

It’s unusual to review albums as old as Withering to death. and UROBOROS from DIR EN GREY. But these are not just any two albums released over 15 years ago. They hold particular significance in the biography of the band, their songs haven’t lost their artistic appeal, and most strikingly: DIR EN GREY are revitalizing them—much to the delight of the fans—by touring with them with their EUROPE TOUR24 FROM DEPRESSION TO ________ [mode of Withering to death. & UROBOROS]. In this unique two-article review, we are diving deeper into these albums. Let’s take a close look at Withering to death. (2005) first, before exploring UROBOROS (2008) in a second review.

DIR EN GREY: Withering to death. (2005)
DIR EN GREY: Withering to death. (2005)

Withering to death.
01. Merciless Cult
02. C
03. Saku [朔-saku-]04. Kodoku ni Shisu, yue ni Kodoku. [孤独に死す、故に孤独。]05. Itoshisa wa Fuhai ni Tsuki [愛しさは腐敗につき]06. Jesus Christ R’n R
08. Machiavellism
09. dead tree
11. Beautiful Dirt
12. Spilled Milk
13. Higeki wa Mabuta wo oroshita yasashiki Utsu [悲劇は目蓋を下ろした優しき鬱]14. Kodou [鼓動]

Withering to death. is one of DIR EN GREY’s best-known albums in Europe. If you have attended any overseas concert of the band, chances are pretty high you’ve heard The Final or Kodou [鼓動]. As a long-standing fan of Japanese Rock and Metal, you have certainly come across dead tree and Saku [朔-saku-]. But do you also know the other songs from the band’s 5th studio album? Here are some more highlights!
Merciless Cult is the introduction to Withering to death. with deep feelings of loneliness, fear, hate, love, and despair. It’s a powerful song that gives you goosebumps. The shouts sound desperate and singer Kyo’s tortured vocals awaken feelings we usually repress or don’t even know. Negative thoughts looking for love.
Withering to death. is an album you’ll experience with a lot of emotions. From hard, aggressive to fast, catchy ballads, the album covers many sides of DIR EN GREY. Drummer Shinya proves how fast and on point he can make his instrument sound. The guitarists Die and Kaoru are two complementary members. One focussing on rhythmic sounds, the other known for his elaborate riffs, both giving each other space to shine. Toshiya’s bass doesn’t come across as strong on this album as in later releases. Nevertheless, he is prominent and gives the songs the depth. Kyo’s vocals are guiding through the different phases of emotions as impressively as he can. Harmonious clear vocals, shouts, psychedelic vocals and much more. Kyo already proves his diversity here, which will only increase and develop in the following albums.
Kodoku ni shisu, yue ni Kodoku. [孤独に死す、故に孤独。] is one of the lesser known songs, but still convinces from the very first chord. In the intro, Kaoru and Die draw us in with their guitar sounds, which can also be heard prominently in the song. Vocals and the other instruments follow. It’s the guitars giving the song a strong expression, but the diverse singing styles giving it strength. DIR EN GREY deliver. Every single note is precisely accurate.
Itoshisa ha Fuhai ni Tsuki [愛しさは腐敗につき] comes with completely different sounds. Rhythmic and a little quieter, giving us listeners a moment to breathe and sway. Sad and reminiscing about the past, Kyo sings: “Dress wo kiite sā odoru” [ドレスを着てさあ踊ろう], which translates to “Let’s put on a dress and dance.”
Jesus Christ R’n R is a catchy song that makes you at least tap along, if not dance and join in. It’s catching, everyone can sing along live and let their emotions run free. But amidst the joy, don’t forget, that this song is also about an important topic: Suppressed emotions and not showing them in public.
GARBAGE comes with fast and aggressive riffs. Kyo’s mentally sick vocals give the song what it needs. There are people who feel like trash, who are looking for meaning in life even if it is just a relationship or a fulfilling job, maybe a good friendship for life.
dead tree’s intro song is particularly memorable. The simple but pleasant-sounding guitar riffs give the song its shine. Kyo’s voice guides us through a journey of dreams and ideals that we cannot achieve. Expectations that are placed on us but that we can never fulfill.
The Final is one of the most popular songs from the album. A person’s suicidal thoughts in poetry.
Higeki ha Mabuta wo oroshita yasashiki Utsu [悲劇は目蓋を下ろした優しき鬱] is a ballad that lets you look deep into yourself. A frozen heart that can’t forget the pain. Kyo takes us through a harsh, painful winter with the lyrics.
Kodou [鼓動] is the perfect ending to the album. A very strong song with an intro and main melody getting stuck in your head right away. Everything is so well coordinated, both instrumentally and vocally, that you can feel the development of the album as well as DIR EN GREY.
To conclude with the last line of Machiavellism: “Please come to the last gasp with me [my pleasure].”
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Merle Buck

Photographer and writer from INDIE FIGHTERS addicted to music, photography, and cats. She captures concert moments and supports tour managements, promoters, and musicians. Merle is also contributing her work to EN.CORE ROCKS.