Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Ear Music
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Metal, Heavy Metal
Even given this decade’s ever-accelerating blurring of genres, Babymetal’s signature sound is a bewildering proposition. Their mix of speed metal’s whipsmart riffs and pummelling rhythms with dance dynamics topped with J-pop vocals, courtesy of teenage girls Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal, is not one for the purists (the existence of a shadowy svengali figure, Kobametal, doesn’t help on that score). And yet this high-speed collision of apparent opposites works surprisingly well.
'Metal Resistance' is here. Ever since Su-metal, Moametal and Yuimetal burst onto the scene in a flurry of viral video clips and massive festival appearances, people have been divided over whether these three girls are the future of metal or merely a fad destined to be lobbed in the bin quicker than Justin Hawkins’ catsuit.While their self-titled debut was a lot of fun, a few tracks aside, wackiness really came at the expense of truly great songs. It’s something their follow-up more than addresses.
Don’t let anybody tell you differently: The weirdest metal album of 2016 wasn’t made by some cryptic black metal band or a group of angry men with guitars. In every sense, BABYMETAL’s sophomore album, METAL RESISTANCE, is further out there than anything we might traditionally deem metal. True to its title, it “resists” the clichés, and tropes, and the general lack of sonic variation in most guitar-based metal music.
After single-handedly launching the metal idol genre with a run of brilliant singles and a hyper-fun self-titled debut album, the Babymetal crew return with Metal Resistance, a second album that alters their winning formula in some important ways. Band mastermind Kobametal and the writers and producers he hired have cut out some of the more playful elements of their sound in favor of a heavier, more serious approach. Yes, the main concept of a trio of chirpy J-pop girls singing in unison over thrashing metal riffs and pummeling beats is still the basis of their genius, but this time there are no reggae interludes, no dubstep breakdowns, fewer bubblegummy melodies, almost no cookie-monster vocals, and no songs about chocolate and their desperate need to have it.
Mostly sung in Japanese – English vocals only appear on closer ‘The One’ and briefly on ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ – ‘Metal Resistance’ shines brightest during tracks such as the epic, melodic ‘Amore’, which draws more heavily on J-pop. For the most part, though, its adherence to the aforementioned formula can be quite boring, a word you might not readily associate with a band that claim to worship a ‘Fox God’. But maybe that’s the problem with being a novelty group – there’s not much left once it’s worn off.