If you go to YouTube and search for ‘Babymetal’, you get an idea just how big this Japanese phenomenon has become. What initially surprised me the most was not so much that there are many video clips from Japanese concerts – because after all, aren’t we used to the Japanese audiences throwing their affection on the oddest things? No, what surprised me the most was the fact that you find videos from both Download and Reading – huge UK festivals, where thousands are not just watching and listening, but also going ape shit over the three teenagers from Tokyo and their backing band.
The most recent issue of Metal Hammer UK had a ten-page (!) feature on the girls, for crying out loud! And they will be playing Wembley Arena the day after the release of this, their second studio album. I mean…what is going on?
Since the new CD by Babymetal, ‘Metal Resistance’, landed in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, I’ve listened to it a number of times, and the fact that I’ve received it for review has naturally made me listen to it in a different way than I’ve listened to the Babymetal material I ran into on YouTube previously. To be honest, I’ve considered what I saw and heard as a bit of a joke. I realise that what the three girls, Su, Yui, Moa and their backing band, Kami, do is no joke. This is business in the Kiss league. This is a brand in the making.
There is nothing spontaneous about this. It’s all planned minutely, calculated down to the last note and Yen. Riding on a ship laden with pop formulas and hard pumped modern metal, the three teenagers lift their slightly shrill voices to conquer the world, and they have certainly found a niche.
Is it all as terrible as I have it sound? No, there’s definitely something to some of the tunes on this album, although it is a mixed pleasure. The first three songs, Road of Resistance, KARATE and Awadama Fever, bring ‘Metal Resistance’ off to a strong start with their electronic pop metal charm and, admittedly, heaviness. YAVA! and Amore then bring the listener down on the ground again, simply because the novelty rings off and they stand out as being less interesting and more shrill than the first tunes. Meta Taro reminds me of…well, I know it sounds odd, but one of Mike Oldfield’s albums – one of those where he went folksy. Where Mike did it well, it only works in part for Babymetal.
From Dusk Till Dawn is boring, whereas GJ! has a fine nu-metal groove and a touch of Gwen Stefani. Sis. Anger is the most furious song of the album, bordering on death metal. This is where I have a very, very hard time with the teenage girl vocals.
No Rain, No Rainbow is for those who like musicals. I don’t.
As a contrast, Tales of the Destinies has a lot more life and let’s the Kami band experiment. By far the most interesting song of the album.
THE ONE is also a ballad of sorts. Could have been used for Mulan, I suppose. Not my cup of tea either.
I can’t help feeling that the band behind the three girls could make lots of wonderful music. And I’m actually sure this could be a wonderful band with the girls too, if they tried to cater less for the Idols concept they were conceived from. Anyhoo, I may be laughing at this, but, well, who’s laughing all the way to the bank? Su, Yui, Moa, their parents or at least their manager are. Good for them.
01. Road Of Resistance
03. Awadama Fever
06. Meta Taro
07. From Dusk Till Dawn
09. Sis. Anger
10. No Rain, No Rainbow
11. Tales Of The Destinies
12. THE ONE (English version)
Release date: 1st of April, 2016
Label: e-a-r Music