Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Boys Are Back In Town…
Dir en grey, that is. They’re coming back to the US in June to open for the Deftones. I’m still not sure if I’m going to any shows on this tour, depends on both work and finances (the closest show will be LA, which is kind of a trek).
I remain determined to convince at least one of my online buds to go check these guys out. Seriously, if you like metal, punk or industrial, these guys are awesome. They also do some of the prettiest ballads I’ve ever heard. I don’t love them just because they’re easy on the eyes, you know.
So, in an attempt to spread the DEG love and because at some point Trin asked me to recommend some more songs I’m going to post links to a bunch of live stuff on You Tube. I recently took a look to see if there was any footage from the US tour posted and holy shit there’s a lot of stuff! These are some random samplings. I will also take requests if people want more of the heavy songs, or more of the slow, pretty songs etc, since I know their playlist back to front and sideways.
Note – A couple of these have subtitles, which may be interesting for those who are bothered by not knowing what a song is about. HOWEVER…these guys write lyrics that would send the average sailor running out of the room in terror towards the nearest therapist’s office, hands clasped over his ears. I’m not kidding. Check out Zomboid if you don’t believe me.

Now there are a lot of songs here, because I really love this band, but if one were to sample only a few to begin with…If you like metal I’d say start with Ugly, New Age Culture, Obscure, Marmalade Chainsaw, Grief, Increase Blue, Byoshin, Rasetsokoku, Mr Newsman, Child Prey. If you like ballads I’d say Zakuro, Mushi, Higeki…, Itoshi…, Undecided, Ain’t Afraid To Die. If you like poppier, more accessible stuff I’d say Yokan, Umbrella, Raison D’Etre, Jessica, 304 Goushitsu, Riyuu, Sajou No Uta, Ryojoku no ame, 24 KO Cylinders. If you like experimental stuff I’d say Filth, Zomboid, Mask, KR Cube, Children, Jesus Christ Rock & Roll, Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk.

How all Dir en grey live shows begin…
The band always come out one by one and each member spends some time greeting the crowd in his own unique way. This is always done in the same order – Shinya, Die, Toshiya, Kaoru, Kyo.

Being a practical bunch they came up with some intro music so that they weren’t just walking out in silence. Hence, GDS. It’s this weird kind of techno-ish thing that has never been on any album. As soon as it starts up the crowd goes nuts. The words he’s saying are “kill, kill, kill”. The audience chants along and punches the air in time with each “kill”. It’s honestly one of the weirdest and most fun band-related rituals I’ve ever participated in – I would love to see your average MRA’s reaction to thousands of girls jumping up and down and screaming “kill!” in unison.

So, that explained…here’s GDS merging into Child Prey. They may well play this song in June. The clip is from the It Withers and Withers DVD, released in 2006.
I love Child Prey. It’s super-aggressive but then there’s this gorgeous guitar part in the bridge that always makes me think of fighter jets swooping through the sky. I also know a girl on LJ who uses the refrain as her screen-name – “kiss me, kill me, love me”.

And since this is Dir en grey…to follow, how about something that sounds completely different? This is KR Cube. I’m actually not crazy about the studio version of this song, although the video is awesome. The live version, however, is pure love. From the 5 Ugly Kingdom DVD (2003). This is at Budokan, by the way. Damn that place is huge!

After that, how about something slow and kind of pretty? 24KO Cylinders, also from 5 Ugly Kingdom. Also note about the 5 Ugly Kingdom clips…the outfits are weird. Die looks like a hedgehog that got into a fight with a jar of manic panic. Seriously, I think he made his own little hole in the ozone layer as a result of this show alone. And his suit is so shiny!

OK, that’s enough slowness for now. Want some upbeat punk? Umbrella. One of my favourite songs – it always puts me in a better mood.

Then how about some classic metal? This is a really old song, from the first indie mini album, but the actual footage is from 2003. Byoshin.
(Side note –I refer to this one as “music to fuck to”)

And some more metal! They’ll definitely play this one in June. The IIID Empire, from the Code of Vulgarism DVD. A charming little ditty about totalitarian regimes.

And another one they’ll definitely play live…C, from It Withers and Withers.

Yet another song guaranteed to be played at the shows in June! Ryojoku no ame, from the new album. The footage is from the show at Budokan a few months ago.

And then there’s the weird stuff…Gyakujou Tannou Keloid Milk.

OK, time for something pretty. Mr Cassandra, who in general hates heavy music, loves this one. The first time he heard it he stopped what he was doing and said “damn, what’s that? That’s beautiful!”. Higeki wa Mabuta o Oroshita Yasashiki Utsu. Yes, they really love those long titles. The footage is from the tour they just finished. I think this is at Budokan again.

And here’s another one…Zakuro. Beautiful guitar work from both guys on this one.

Another acoustic-based song. Check out the guitar duet about ¾ of the way through.

And this one is just too pretty to be true with the visuals in the background. Another really long title…Itoshisa wa Fuhai ni Tsuki. They’ll probably play this in June, too.

The midpoint between prettiness and rock…Red ‘Em. From the It Withers and Withers DVD. Another great bassline on this one.

And Sajou No Uta

Really old one…with yet another killer bassline. Beautiful song. Another one that non-heavy-music-loving Mr Cassandra adores. 304 Goushitsu, Hakushi no Sakura.

Another old one – Mask live at Osaka Jo Hall. Note the completely over the top VK outfits. How the hell did they run around in those outfits without falling over? Kyo’s apparent attempt to do the Macarena during this song is a little disturbing, so lets just ignore that shall we? Great song, though.

And while we’re talking about old stuff…I already posted the video for this. I’m not fond of the (horribly overproduced) album version of this song, but the live version is another matter entirely. And again with the killer basslines! Raison D’Etre, live at Osaka Jo in 1999.

OK, enough prettiness for now. How about some groovy metal? Ugly, from the 5 Ugly Kingdom DVD. This is the song that wakes my ass up in the morning.

And one of my favourite songs. For most people who got into DEG within the last 3 or 4 years this seems to have been the song that did it. Kasumi. Pretty but kind of creepy. Classic DEG sound - wierd rhythm, heavy but with a pretty chorus, what the hell genre do you put this in?

Time for some more metal! I love both of these songs. When I was going through my anti-metal phase a few years back these were the songs that brought me back into the fold. First, Marmalade Chainsaw.

Then, Increase Blue. This is kind of funny given the most recent feminist dust-up. This song is about porn. Specifically inspired by the fact that the band recorded about half of one album in LA and encountered the prevalance of the porn industry there. The tone is neither praising nor condemning, it simply is. So, am I "allowed" to like this?

This one's pretty earwormy. Gotta love the refrain (in English) - Goodbye, kiss me. Goodbye, kiss you.

Funny thing about this one...One guitar player (Kaoru) writes about 75% of the songs. The other guitar player (Die) writes most of the remainder. I can usually tell a Die song by the rhythm, and this is a perfect example. Another earworm. Riyuu.

And some more grooviness. This is kind of Rage Against the Machine-like, except much sexier. For some inexplicable reason the one word in this song I recognize is “ketai”, which means “cell phone”. Weird. Anyway…Children.

Metal again. I love all of these songs.

Hades…I love the part at the end where he says in English “Hangman kills me”.

Grief. This is from the new album. They’ll definitely play this in June. Affectionately referred to by me as “the fuck you song”, for reasons that will become obvious upon listening to it. How many times can he say “fuck you” in one song? Let’s count, shall we? . The quality’s kind of crappy though since it’s a (very much unofficial) bootleg.

One of the first real metal songs they wrote. I LOVE this. Rasetsukoku.

Another one’s they’ll definitely do in June…this is the song that really freaked out the dude from Korn when he went to see them in LA and the audience was singing the chorus back to them…in Japanese. Which they do at every show, even when the audience is full of white kids. This is so emo it’s not even funny, but I love it anyway. The Final.

The song that scared the crap out of the dude from Wired they sent to interview them in 2006. Who sends a computer geek to interview a metal band? I believe the word demonic was used. Not that I blame of this song sound downright evil, and I LOVE IT. Interesting note - every time I've seen them live this has been the song that the crowd has gone nuts during. I suspect that tells you a lot about their audience.

Kind of a funky one. Jesus Christ Rock and Roll.
LOVE the chorus on this one. Watch out for the groovy little bridge about 3 minutes in.

Some sad prettiness. Kyo looks like he’s about to start crying in this one. Gorgeous acoustic and electric guitar work on this one.

And here’s an example of why I worship the ground Toshiya walks on. The melody in the intro? That’s him. How many bands do you know that have the bass playing the melody? Notice that almost very review of the recent US tour mentioned Toshiya as the standout from a technical point of view. He’s not just a pretty face.
He wrote this song, BTW.
Bottom of Death Valley.

And another upbeat, catchy one...Yokan (Premonition). Yep, this is definately a Die song. From the Blitz 5 Days DVD…in which they sold out 5 days straight at Budokan. The tickets were all gone in less than a day. Did I mention the fanbase is nuts?

Now this one I’m torn about. The music is stunning. The lyrics…well, let’s just say that it’s about abortion. And I don’t think that men should say too much about abortion, especially if they’re going to adopt the emotionally manipulative tactic of writing from the point of view of a fetus. And I know that he was only about 22 at the time, but still. Kyo writes lyrics from points of view that are not his own all the time, and normally I’m OK with that, but with this song…well, again, men are not in a position fully grok what is involved in this decision, and so IMO the smartest thing they can do is STFU. And the first time I figured out what the lyrics meant I wanted to punch the little fucker. Let’s hope he’s gained a little perspective over the years. I will note that they haven’t played this live in a long time.
The actual song, however, the music…weird and creepy and absolutely stunning. It’s almost impossible to believe that this was on their first album.
Do I sound conflicted or what?

And a short, simple one. R to the Core. Love this song. Always a crowd favourite.

More of Cassandra’s favourite songs…Filth. I fucking love this song. Mr Cassandra calls it the poltergeist song because of the creepy looped voices.
Hearing other bands attempt to cover this is painful. They never can get that wierd, syncopated rhythm right.

Zomboid. Love the rhythm on this one. It's even more syncopated than the last one. Damn, Shinya’s turned into a hell of a drummer.
Note – This one has subtitles. The lyrics are rather blatantly sexual. And not very hetero. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(This song is of course Music To Fuck To part 2)

And one that’s so damn gorgeous it’s ridiculous. The album version of this song is nearly 12 minutes long. It was kind of their Pink Floyd moment. Macabre.

And this…a metal band, doing a song with a full string section and kids singing on the chorus. Only in Japan. It’s very pretty, though, in an unforgiveably sappy sort of way. Ain’t Afraid to Die.

This one truly is beautiful, but if you speak enough Japanese to understand the words it will probably make you cry. It’s about child abuse, written from the point of view of the child, who seems to be about 8 or 10. She keeps crying out for her mother, and it’s not until you get further into it that you realize that Mom is dead. And that Dad is really, really not a nice person. Also, remember where I said that Kyo writes lyrics from points of view not his own? Perfect example. This song also has one of the best bass tracks I have ever heard. It's does he do that?
Absolutely gut-wrenching song.

Another one that’s in the current live setlist. Mr Newsman. They’ve been opening shows with this recently. Sounds amazing live. This is another funky but heavy one.

My favorite song from Vulgar. This is one of very few on which Kaoru sings backup…and the reason why is obvious if you listen to it. Damn that man has a deep, growly voice! Wouldn’t exactly be appropriate for a ballad.
I LOVE this song.
New Age Culture

And now, to finish with, a song so bouncy and happy I can’t believe these guys wrote it! I love this particular live performance. I was trying to find something that showed the weird love-in that happens between the band and the audience sometimes, and this is a good example. I’m especially fond of the parts where the guys are all running through the crowd. Toshiya is flirting like mad as usual, Kaoru is striking his "I'm a rock star, dude" pose and doing inappropriate things with his tongue, and even Kyo is smiling. Damn, who knew he could smile?
Jessica, from the 5 Ugly Kingdom DVD.

Enjoy, all, and go see them open for the Deftones!

1 comment:

Rebecca Yu said...

God thank you for posting these vids!

God damn you for soaking my panties (it's worse than porn)!