Over the last few years, no act has proven more divisive within the metal community than BABYMETAL. The group, essentially a metal band fronted by three Japanese teenage pop singers, rose to fame in 2014 when the video for their song Gimme Chocolate went viral on YouTube. Now onto their sophomore release, the trio of Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal (as well as their backing musicians, the Kami Band) are looking to break into the metal mainstream, prove their detractors wrong, and bring about the Metal Resistance.
Opener Road Of Resistance will be immediately familiar to fans of the band, having debuted last year as a bonus track on the band’s live album Live At Budokan: Red Night. Featuring DRAGONFORCE axemen Herman Li and Sam Totman as special guests, the track essentially feels like what would happen if a DRAGONFORCE song was translated into Japanese – so well do Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal emulate the British power-metallers. Powerful vocals and a whole load of “woah-oh-oh” calling pile on the cheesiness, but it’s all underpinned by a seriously impressive melody;
Things only escalate from here on, as the album’s first true single kicks in. Karate, at its core, is a seriously heavy song with heaps of crushing riffs. Its vocals on the other hand, could barely be more melodic if they tried. With a battle-cry of “Seiya!”, the trio manage to create perhaps one of their strongest ever songs, melding an excellent chorus to a simplistic, but heavy guitar riff – combining to form a seriously impressive track.
It wouldn’t be a BABYMETAL album without a serious helping of weirdness though, and Yava! brings just that in spades. A gloriously bouncy electronic beat pumps around the girls’ almost-rapped vocals, creating a track that’s very much a pop song, but still manages to maintain elements of metal. Similar in a way to Iine! from the band’s previous record, but different enough to remain interesting, Yava! proves that the band aren’t afraid to go completely random in their styling.
If Awadama Fever is their take on infusing electro with metal, then Meta Taro feels like what would happen if you combined the BABYMETAL version of both a marching song and an anime theme song. With a far-too-catchy opening chorus and a driving drum-beat, it’s yet another bizarrely brilliant tune that only serves to highlight the creative variance behind the group’s many songwriters.
As it turns out, there’s far more to Metal Resistance than just balls-to-the-wall riffing, as proven by No Rain, No Rainbow – a titanic ballad that gives Su-metal a prime spot to showcase her impressive vocals talent. Just about managing to stay the right side of syrupy-sweet, the track ends up being a perfect change of pace, as well as a brief respite from the pummelling heaviness found elsewhere on the album.
There’s a moment on penultimate track Tale of the Destinies where everything genuinely begins to sound like Deconstruction-era DEVIN TOWNSEND. Off-kilter guitar licks and strange prog-metal drum patterns add a complex new layer to the BABYMETAL soundscape arsenal and each of the three girls get their moment in the spotlight.
Closing out Metal Resistance is perhaps one of its most interesting moments. The One is another Su-metal solo track, except this time, the vocals are entirely in English. This can definitely sound jarring upon first listen, but its power-metal-esque bombast elevates the track to being one of the best things on the album. It’s also an excellent choice of closing number, giving Western audiences something they can understand more easily as a parting gift.
On the whole, Metal Resistance will probably not be an album for everyone, simply on principle for many. Those that do take the time to listen though will discover perhaps one of the most inventive metal records of the last few years, if not decades. Despite their origins as a fully manufactured act, the girls of BABYMETAL have evolved into highly impressive vocalists and their talent really shines through in every aspect of Metal Resistance. Even metal purists should be able to find something to impress in the performances from the Kami Band. As for where BABYMETAL will go next, well – “Only the Fox God knows!”
Metal Resistance is out now.
For more information on BABYMETAL, visit their Facebook page.