For that slightly disturbed person on your Christmas list, Dir en grey’s Average Blasphemy DVD will make for a ear-splitting, blood-curdling experience.
The Japanese extreme metal act has seen its line-up remain consistent since it began rocking the world and scaring small children in 1997, but a number of stylistic alterations have made Dir en grey extremely difficult to categorize. Their live performances and music videos have reflecting this constantly shifting image, often to controversial results thanks in large part to violent, bizarre imagery.
Average Blasphemy provides fans with a collection of 13 music videos representing tracks from The Marrow of a Bone and Uroboros. There are also a few behind-the-scenes features from some of the videos, but the main draw of the DVD will be the staggering imagery of the unique videos.
The two major draws to this collection will be the epic video for “Vinushka” and the MTV Headbanger’s Ball award-winning “Dozing Green.”
Two versions of “Vinushka” grace Average Blasphemy, the best of which is the so-called “restricted version” running nearly ten minutes. Directed and produced by Hiroyuki Kondo, the video features jarring footage of war and the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. Another version, the promotional edit version, fails to capture the momentum and power of the song.
“Dozing Green,” also directed and produced by Kondo, uses some animation and shadowing alongside band shots to visually express the character of the song.
The videos of Dir en grey aren’t just loosely cobbled visuals designed to go with any random song, as some rock videos sometimes seem to be. These are watchfully constructed clips, many of which are disconcerting, and they build on the band’s music in a colourfully exhilarating way.
“Agitated Screams of Maggots” is included with a restricted version and another version that is a rough compilation of live footage. The restricted version, unfortunately and pointlessly censored for this DVD release, is a shocking video using crude animation to tell a fierce, creepy tale. Luckily, the full uncensored version is available on YouTube. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Also included are videos for “Clever Sleazoid,” “Grief,” “Glass Skin,” and more.
The bonus features go behind-the-scenes of the videos to offer a bit of insight as to how these all came together, but there’s nothing particularly necessary about the footage. The finished videos are, of course, far more intriguing.
Dir en grey’s uncompromising approach to their subject matter is commendable, especially in light of countless weak American rock bands with little to say and even less innovation when it comes to expressing it. Average Blasphemy provides the optical counterparts to the band’s songs, completing the full intentions of Kyo and Co. with brilliant and disturbing visual art.