After exploring DIR EN GREY’s 5th studio album Withering to death. from 2005 yesterday, we are now taking a closer look at yet another iconic album of the band: their 7th studio album UROBOROS (2008), which followed THE MARROW OF A BONE (2007). UROBOROS announced a new DIR EN GREY with a more intricate sound. During the creation process of the album, the five musicians processed a lot, which resulted in an even darker and harder album compared to previous releases while still stayed true to their style.

(original version)

01. Sa Bir
02. Vinushka
03. Red Soil
04. Doukoku to sarinu
05. Toguro [蜷局]
06. Glass Skin
07. Stuck Man
08. Reiketsu nariseba
09. Ware, Yami tote…
10. Bugaboo
11. Gaika, Chinmoku ga nemuru Koro
12. Dozing Green
13. Inconvenient Ideal
The album’s title refers to the circular, ancient symbol ouroboros or uroboros, which depicts a serpent or dragon biting, devouring, or eating its own tail and represents the eternal cyclic renewal or a cycle of life, death and rebirth. Vocalist Kyo stated that the title means life and death to him.
But not only does UROBOROS mark the beginning of a new era of the band, it is also as of yet the only album that has been remastered and expanded. In 2012, UROBOROS was re-released with revised songs, as well as two additional tracks, Hydra -666- and Bugaboo Respira.
The intro song to this dark album, Sa Bir, has been revised and opens with animal-like and prayer-like sounds or words in the new version. For some it might even sound aliens-like. Then suddenly, the bells of an old clock and sounds of a clockwork lead us into the original intro with few changes. The remastered version creates an even darker mood, yet both versions of Sa Bir introduce the album well in their own way.
But for this review, let’s focus on the original release from 2008! With UROBOROS, we do not only experience the worlds of emotions such as love, hate and loss as before. There are always questions about yourself and society.
After the intro lures listeners into the darkness, we get Vinushka. This 9:37 minutes long track is a masterpiece all on its own and a style-defining journey representing the band’s change: A different DIR EN GREY, harder and more experimental. Kyo’s varying vocals lead through the song. But all instruments are coming to the front, including Toshiya’s bass, which can be heard clearly and, like many Metal bands, underlines the heavy, deep sound. This prominent bass is a major factor for today’s typical DIR EN GREY sound in this and subsequent albums.
UROBOROS manifests how all members of DIR EN GREY are constantly improving their skills and it’s noticeable in every subsequent album. Leading the way is bandleader Kaoru, a self-confessed workaholic who always manages to arrange the intricate songs in such a way that it feels more than good for listeners and that nobody gets lost in the band’s heaviness and darkness, may it be through carrying drums or leading guitars.
Red Soil is overflowing with guitar delights. If they were candy, we would want to stuff them all into our mouths at the same time. They are topped by a variety of high and low tones with Kyo’s voice, consisting of clean vocals, shouts of deep grunts and his very own style of psychotic vocals.
The album gets harder and more aggressive with each song. But all the heaviness is interrupted with the soothing song Glass Skin. The ballad is about fear of loss and to hold on to what lies ahead of us.
The calm doesn’t last long, though. Stuck Man and Reiketsu Nariseba continue aggressively and dynamically. They are probably the most confronting songs on the album. Toshiya’s bass underlines Kyo’s death growls and brings the necessary weight to the songs.
But with Ware, Yami tote… we get another ballad that interrupts the harshness of the album again. Kyo’s emotive vocals guide us through different emotions. Kaoru’s and Die’s acoustic guitars, a yet again strong bass of Toshiya and Shinya’s sensitive-sounding drums emphasize this. This is one of DIR EN GREY’s strongest ballads.
Three more strong, dark songs follow, including the first single release on the album, Dozing Green, released ahead of UROBOROS and announcing what was about to come. The song reflects the skillful balance of emotion and harshness, DIR EN GREY is known for.
Then in the end, we get the golden closing: Inconvenient Ideal. The song builds slowly and once again shows Kyo’s incredible vocals that have the power to crawl into your soul. They are rounded up by the shouts of the other band members, low buzzing bass lines, and a combination of acoustic and electric guitar creating an incredibly good, dark sound.
Merle Buck

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.