major - active (1997 - )
DIR EN GREY has gained notoriety throughout Asia and in more recent years, Europe and America due in part to their hard-hitting sound, controversial lyrical content and Kyo’s diverse vocal range.

While DIR EN GREY’s musical direction is rock at its core, since their formation in 1997, the band has experimented with a myriad of genres which makes them increasingly complicated to define.
author: Cage (2014-06-04)
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Following the dissolution of visual band La:Sadies, Kyo, Kaoru, Die, Shinya and their newly recruited bassist Toshiya formed DIR EN GREY in Osaka in 1997 with the intent of “broadening everyone’s mind to the various pains of the heart, the phenomenon of the human ego and their resultant shallowness and frailness."

Shortly after their formation, the band was quickly discovered by COLOR vocalist DYNAMITE TOMMY, and was taken in by the indies label SOL'FINSTERRE which was created by East-West Japan and TOMMY. DIR EN GREY made their official indies debut with the single JEALOUS.

The band gained rapid popularity amongst the visual fanbase with the release of their second single I’ll, which peaked at number seven on the Oricon charts, which at the time, was the highest charting position achieved by an indies band within Japan. With DIR EN GREY reaching unprecedented success in such a short time, it was announced that the band would make their major debut in November following a performance at the prestigious Nippon Budokan.

In January, the releases of Akuro no oka, ZAN and Yurameki, all of which had been produced by X JAPAN’s YOSHIKI, firmly cemented the band’s rising popularity as all three singles peaked within Oricon's Top 10.

That same month, DIR EN GREY’s performance of ZAN on Music Station received a variety of complaints from assorted viewers due to its visual content and violent choice of song. However, despite these initial complaints, performances of Cage and Yokan on the same program received little to no complaints.

In July, DIR EN GREY released their first studio album GAUZE which, in comparison to their later work, featured the more characteristic visual musical style of the 1990's. From September, in support of the album, the band embarked on their first national tour which began at Yokohama Arena and concluded in December with a performance at Osaka Castle Hall.

The release of their second studio album MACABRE in September the following year signified a marked change for the band in terms of sound. The album integrated ethnic music throughout and coupled with Kyo’s lyrical content resulted in a “darker” album which focused more on a gloomy outlook on the world. Unfortunately, on the opening day of the album’s accompanying national tour TOUR 00>>01 MACABRE brain gain(er) brain drain(er), an outbreak of illness resulted in sudden deafness in Kyo’s left ear and in the unavoidable postponement of the tour, although following Kyo’s return the band embarked on said tour and held their second concert in Nippon Budokan.

In 2002, the band released their third studio album Kisou which incorporated a hardcore metal vibe into several of the tracks. The band also traveled overseas for the first time and performed in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. An estimated 100,000 people attended the tour throughout Asia and in Shanghai several members of the crowd had to be removed from the venue due to overheating. The band’s final performance of the tour was held in Yokohama Arena.

With the release of mini-album six Ugly and maxi single Child prey, DIR EN GREY began to incorporate the “hard and heavy sound” that would become infamous within their later music.

The band’s fourth studio album VULGAR, released in September 2003, centered on the “theme of pain” and became the first album to not feature individual music credits, but rather the band as a whole. Following the release of VULGAR, DIR EN GREY received various invitations to perform overseas and in 2005, the band held their first sold out performance in Berlin before 3,500 spectators. Shortly afterward, the band performed at the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park Festival.

Following their return to Japan, DIR EN GREY participated in the independent Taste of Chaos Tour Japan 2005 which saw them perform alongside notable acts such as KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and THE USED. It was also around this time that DIR EN GREY’s image began to rely less on the visual props of their early career and more on the incorporation of a mainstream rock look.

In May 2006, DIR EN GREY released their fifth studio album Withering to death in the United States following a performance in March at SXSW which was a sell-out before 5,000 fans. The album ranked in place forty-two in the Billboard Magazine’s Top Independent Albums chart. While Withering to death was achieving success in the United States, DIR EN GREY was conducting their second tour throughout Europe. The band also attended Rock am Ring and Rock im Park for the second consecutive year, becoming the first Japanese band to perform on the main stage.

Over July 31st and August 1st, DIR EN GREY performed at the prestigious Nippon Budokan and in an amazing feat, tickets for the events sold out within 45 minutes of going on sale. On August 4th, DIR EN GREY participated in THE FAMILY VALUES TOUR instrumented by KoЯn which saw the band perform at 31 shows before an accumulative 600,000 attendees.

Upon their return to Japan, DIR EN GREY performed at the one of the largest heavy metal festivals LOUD PARK 06 on the GIGANTOUR STAGE, which also included bands such as Megadeth, ANGRA and Anvil performing on the same stage. In November, MTV announced on their popular program "Headbangers Ball", that DIR EN GREY had become the first Japanese band, with their music video for saku, to achieve the Grand Prix in their “Top 25 Metal Videos” as chosen by MTV’s viewers.

DIR EN GREY celebrated their 10th Anniversary in 2007 and since their formation, had achieved the remarkable feat of gaining popularity within countries such as the United States, England, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland, due in part to their extensive touring.

In February, the band returned to North America to conduct their TOUR07 INWARD SCREAM and held eighteen separate performances. Their sixth studio album THE MARROW OF A BONE was released in eleven countries worldwide, including Japan on February 7th. The album ranked at eighth place on the United States Billboard Top Heatseekers chart and peaked at number twenty-one on the Top Independent Albums chart.

Following their return to Japan, the band embarked on the nationwide TOUR07 THE MARROW OF A BONE and in June, returned to America to participate alongside Deftones on their North American THE FAMILY VALUES TOURS. In August, DIR EN GREY conducted their third European tour, including an independent performance in England and an appearance at the world’s largest heavy metal festival Wacken in Germany.

In anticipation for the upcoming release of DOZING GREEN, the band held their TOUR07 DOZING GREEN from September to October, and with the single’s release on October 24th, achieved the third position on the Oricon charts. The band returned to Europe for a short tour of six performances in November and toward the end of the month, were the guest performers at LINKIN PARK’s live at the Saitama Super Arena.

The end of the year was punctuated with the band’s TOUR07 THE MARROW OF A BONE, where they were supported by American group 10 Years who had also participated in THE FAMILY VALUES TOUR. In commemoration of their 10th Anniversary, the band also released DECADE 1998-2002 and DECADE 2003-2007 which peaked at positions fourteen and fifteen on the Oricon charts respectively.

In November, DIR EN GREY supported The Human Abstract throughout the entirety of their North American tour and during their time in the United States, the band’s seventh studio album UROBOROS was released simultaneously in 17 countries worldwide. The album peaked at place 114 on The Billboard 200 and achieved the #1 position on the Top Heatseekers chart.

On Christmas Eve, MTV announced that DIR EN GREY had once again obtained the Grand Prix on the “Headbangers Ball” with the music video for DOZING GREEN. December 29th saw DIR EN GREY perform at the prestigious Osaka-Jo Hall for the first time in nine years with the event UROBOROS –breathing- which an estimated 10,000 spectators attended.

The band started the following year, 2009, by participating in the Kerrang! Relentless Energy Drink Tour in the United Kingdom, alongside Mindless Self Indulgence, Bring Me The Horizon, Black Tide and In Case of Fire.

From February through to May, DIR EN GREY embarked on the TOUR09 FEAST OF V SENSES which included performances in small venues (housing up to 300 people), those available to members of their official fanclub [a knot] and male only events. In June, the group returned to conduct a tour throughout Europe with opening act KILLSWITCH ENGAGE. The band also made an appearance for the first time at the Download Festival in England, the Nova Rock Festival in Austria and the Metal Town Festival in Sweden. Later that year, DIR EN GREY held their debut performance in South America, which included an appearance at the Maquinaria Festival in Chile.

In January 2010, DIR EN GREY held a two-day event at the Nippon Budokan entitled UROBOROS –with the proof in the name of living…-, the tickets for which sold out in 15 minutes of going on sale. During their domestic tour throughout June and July, DIR EN GREY returned to South Korea for a brief appearance at the Pentaport Rock Festival and in August, performed at the Sonisphere Festival in Britain as well as a debut live in Russia. Later that same month, the band returned to North America for a 16-date tour with APOCALYPTICA.

Later that year, the band made their second appearance at LOUD PARK 10 and the track Hageshisa to, kono mune no naka de karamitsuita shakunetsu no yami was featured on the soundtrack for the movie "Saw 3D".

DIR EN GREY started 2011 by releasing the single LOTUS, their first in fourteen months. It peaked at 6 on the Oricon weekly chart. On May 14th, the band kicked off the fanclub-only TOUR2011 DECOMPOSITION OF THE MOON with a performance at Zepp Osaka. This concluded May 30th following a concert at Kyoto FAN.

The band released the single DIFFERENT SENSE in June and the following month, they returned to Europe for the TOUR2011 PARADOX OF RETALIATION, starting out in The Netherlands. August saw the release of DIR EN GREY’s eighth studio album, DUM SPIRO SPERO.

In February 2012, the band’s fans were hit with some worrying news: vocalist Kyo had been diagnosed with vocal nodule dysphonia. As such, DIR EN GREY was forced to withdraw from STILL RECKLESS TOUR in North America. In addition, a series of one-man concerts scheduled for Spring 2012 in Japan were also cancelled.

The following August, DIR EN GREY won the Extreme Metal Olympics competition arranged by online magazine Loudwire.com, beating Death in the final. In December, the band released the single RINKAKU, their first for eighteen months, and ended 2012 by beginning the IN SITU tour with a performance at the Tokyo International Forum on Christmas Day.

In April 2013, the band released their third EP, THE UNRAVELING, and a few days later, set out on the TABULA RASA tour in support of the EP. Then, after a short European tour in June, DIR EN GREY embarked on the TOUR2013 GHOUL. The Japanese leg of the tour ran throughout September and October, followed by the North American leg in November.

In January 2014, the band released the single SUSTAIN THE UNTRUTH. The following March, DIR EN GREY performed two shows entitled DUM SPIRO SPERO at the Nippon Budokan.

DIR EN GREY is a band which has become associated with change over the span of their career and one who shows no sign of halting in the near future. Coupled with their raw, yet studio perfect sound and Kyo’s controversial lyrics, DIR EN GREY will surely remain one of the most noted band in the Japanese music industry for years to come.
author: Cage (2014-06-04)

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