These arty Japanese rockers say they sought to impart a hopeful vibe on Dum Spiro Spero in an attempt to fortify their countrymen following March’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. Judging from the slithering jab-and-pummel of cuts like “Juuyoko” and “Shitataru Mourou,” though, Dir En Grey were more interested in depicting Mother Nature’s unpredictable temper: These ominous minor-key workouts routinely change direction on a dime, not unlike a tornado or a hurricane. You do get the occasional wisp of wonder from frontman Kyo’s high, searching vocals, as in the strangely beautiful “The Blossoming Beelzebub.” But its calm precedes a discomfiting storm. MIKAEL WOOD
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