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Dir En Grey: The Unraveling

J-Rockers give their stopgap release a mighty kick

Packing more punch than a mouthful of wasabi, these purveyors of progressive-meets-death metal have covered much ground since their ‘visual kei’ days. Is this their next grand oeuvre?

No, but it’s a lively stopgap, largely composed of 90s and early 00s rogue cuts remade to echo the Dir En Grey style as it looks through 2011’s fiery Dum Spiro Spero (and pensive latest single Rinkaku), while harking back to earlier work. Sole newbie Unraveling reveals haunting synths before death hisses materialise, followed by blastbeating, larynx-shredding ferocity. _ _

Karma menacingly gathers momentum before launching truly brutal riffs, death vocals; think Hello Kitty on a sacrificial pyre, in a slasher gorefest. Bottom Of The Death Valley receives a melodic, sharpened facelift as stronger guitar work lifts the heavy, melancholy vibe. Early B-side Unknown.Despair. Lost is a revelation, an avant-garde fusion of heavy rock, concentrated weirdness, death and wah tones.

Their next original LP will be the real test, but this is quality stuff – a good introduction for Dir En Grey newbies.