Dir En Grey

This Japanese metal quintet has existed on the fringes of the mainstream heavy stuff here in the States, playing to a devoted crew of fans on this side of the world since breaking here about five years ago with an appearance on MTV's new-model Headbangers Ball. Call them a Japanese Slipknot, a less-gangster-leaning Korn, but don't call them any less than entertaining. Even bellowing in their native tongue hasn't stopped them from gaining new English-speaking fans, who are more than used to their unintelligible lyrical turns. This year the band released a new disc, Dum Spiro Spero, which will arouse the interest of fans of vintage — that is, better — System of a Down and the heavily influential Mr. Bungle. Their sound has progressed from an electric-goth wonderland into a full-on metal exercise since 1999's Gauze. DIG's Kyo has more than a passing singing similarity to Bungle mastermind Mike Patton, but this band is no tribute act. Come for the riffs, the imagery and the vibe, and maybe you can learn some Japanese.

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