REVIEW: DECAYS - Red or Maryam

By now, many of our readers have likely heard of DECAYS, the new band started by Die, guitarist of DIR EN GREY. Their first release, Red or Maryam, has been anticipated by fans of Die and DIR EN GREY, and many are no doubt wondering if the band sounds quite different than DIR EN GREY, as other members’ side projects have. Indeed, the sound that Die and his new bandmates create is quite different from what we have heard from Die before, but just as remarkable, and they have produced one of the most interesting albums of the year this far.

Red or Maryam is a dynamic record that takes viewers through a variety of songs, each just as compelling. Ranging from the upbeat, fast “ラナ” to the dark, dreamy, “Dry,” DECAYS first album is never predictable, and in a very good way. Where some side-projects of visual-kei artists belabor a single mood for an entire project, DECAYS has assembled a simultaneously diverse and stylistically unified album. By the end of listening to Red or Maryam, the listener has a very clear feel for DECAYS’ style, in part characterized by their ability to play a set of such diverse songs, and bring a trademark style to each one.

Red or Maryam's album art.
Jeff of VKH Press recently reviewed DECAYS’ single, “Veludo no Tori,” noting the band’s layered compositions, and perhaps the surprise some listeners will be in for when they hear DIR EN GREY’s guitarist playing far softer sounds. Yet just like Jeff, I am quite impressed with what Die and DECAYS accomplish here, as the album alternates from soft, relaxing moments, to deep introspective tracks such as “Dry,” characterized by carefully layered soundscapes.

This album makes superb use of auto-tune and guitar effects, at a level of expertise similar to baroque’s Planetary Secret, but in quite a different way. Here, we are treated to Die’s guitar work being distorted less by heavy metal effects, and more dreamy, echoing sounds. Fans of Die’s will no doubt recognize on tracks such as “beautiful,” traces of the lingering fade Die has used in numerous Dir en Grey tracks, however, it is deployed in a far different manner here.

Red or Maryam showcases new sides of Die for those of us who have long admired his work in DIR EN GREY, and also serves as a brilliant entry for the band, DECAYS. This band is truly one to watch, as their experimentation with different sounds leads to rich compositions that completely draw the viewer in. Ranging from head-bopping rock melodies to distorted, dreamy moments, Red or Maryam is a great showing by this new band, and proves the dynamic nature of Die as an artist. 

Special thanks to DECAYS for providing us with the material for this review!
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