Dir En Grey

Wacken - 2011

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

It’s not often that a band has me dropping my chin in surprise, but this was exactly what happened with Dir En Grey at Wacken this year.

My first run in with the band had actually been at Wacken as well, back in 2007, and what I took with me from that experience was that Dir En Grey seemed to play something in the vein of nu-metal, with their own twist to it, and that they delivered a very lively, near explosive, live performance. Next time I would see them was at another festival in 2009, which only worked to strengthen this idea of mine.
As this live-performance quality, and of course the music which fit it so well, was what I had fallen for in the first place, it was of course what I expected to be blown away by once more now that they were back on German soil.
But what happens? The band enters the stage and begins to play, and out of the speakers there is this extremely deep, weird doom metal thing rumbling out over the field. This was just about as far away from any of my expectations as they could have gone! You must understand that I did not mind this new direction, it actually sounded quite interesting, I just couldn’t fathom what had happened to the Dir En Grey I thought I knew. It was like closing your eyes and expecting to be fed strawberry cake and instead getting a batch of salted liquorice.
Moving forward into the set the pace did pick up a bit, but Kyo would keep using his deep guttural growling much of the time.

Like the music, especially in that initial song, the performance of the band was also much slower and less explosive than at my earlier encounters with the band. Actually, Kyo was almost the only one moving around on stage, and even he had toned it down several notches to what I was expecting. This, in combination with the fact that Dir En Grey were playing their songs back to back, with no crowd connection to speak of, resulted in a rather weak response from the audience. Or maybe they were just as stunned as I was, I don’t know.
Still, even with the midsized, though widely spread out, crowd the band only managed some raised arms in the front and some cheers between songs; not what I would call uplifting exactly.
That the band has had a severe change of style since those power days of -07 is clear for anyone to see, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sure, I did not get what I came for, but with a little adjustment in my preconception I think this could be quite enjoyable as well; for this time though I did miss the old style, and was too taken aback to really take in the new one with a completely open mind.

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