Japanese rock band Dir En Grey is huge in its home country, and it's starting to make waves here in the States, despite being way too cool for us. The group is seriously the hippest hard-metal band to hit the Western world in a long time. Originally part of Japan's flamboyant Visual Kei movement (which often includes crazy hairstyles and extreme makeup), the five-piece band has opted for a more conventional, brooding goth-metal look in recent years, an aesthetic that also oozes and rages from their sixth studio album, The Marrow of a Bone. Songs like “Lie Buried with a Vengeance” and “Clever Schizoid” lurch and screech along a barrage of hammering drums and reverberating power chords, while others, like “The Pledge,” swoon through their misery with dark, dramatic guitars and singer Kyo's incredibly compelling wail, which sometimes resembles that of a higher-range Japanese Morrissey. But the best track is “The Fatal Believer,” a brutal metal onslaught in which Kyo combines his low-range croon with throaty screeches and guttural growls. The band tries on several styles throughout the album, without sacrificing its intensity or heaviness, and it pays off sublimely. Domo arigato, Dir En Grey.
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Dir En Grey performs Monday, May 21, at Verizon Wireless Theater, 520 Texas, 713-230-1600.