After creating chaos and mayhem in heated debates all over the internet with their homonymous debut album, Babymetal
contradicts expectations once again by making it to their second record. After such a confusing debut, I admit I was sketchy, but mostly excited, about listening to the band's new album. And
those who expected Babymetal
to show an extra dose of maturity and commitment to the metal genre shall not be disappointed while listening to “Road
”, the opening track, which was composed and instrumented by Sam Totman and Herman Li of Dragonforce. Such participation allows Road
to shine as the traditional tech-power metal Dragonforce is known for, but that is not the only reason this works so well. Lead singer Su-Metal
’s growth makes itself known while she carries this piece just as well as any other talented metal singer, and perhaps what is most shocking and/or frustrating, with no screaming vocals whatsoever, apart from the casual credit-less growls we hear in the background. Back-up singers Yui and Moa allow Road
to showcase the song’s catchy sing-alongs, while it’s pop structure keeps the listener 100% interested throughout its 5 minutes.
The second track, “Karate
“ starts off with a massive, groovy nu-metal riff, but this song’s instruments are not showcased as well as the last song. Here, the three girls’ vocals lead the song into sections that highly resemble post-hardcore. The pop sections of this song also resembles western pop much more than J-Pop, given the fact that the vast majority of the vocals do not try to appear cute. However, they are still present, and some traditional metal fans will not be able to appreciate this track to its fullest.
The third song, “Awadama Fever”, is a highly pop-infused industrial metal song. The vocals sound cute and the catchy sing-alongs are there, also. That
added to the typical breakdown in the middle make this sound quite predictable coming from Babymetal
, but it’s fun just the same. Predictable, however, is far from describing the track “Yava!”, which is a large, boiling pot of influences. Ska background, a punk tempo, industrial drops and bubblegum pop, we have it all. The poppy choruses, however, can be overwhelming, and most traditional metal fans will have a hard time enjoying it.
number five, “Amore”, can be considered Babymetal
’s own take of tech-power, following the likes of Dragonforce (literally, in this album). The track starts off cheesy and romantic, something which stands throughout the entire track, making it almost sound as if a power-metal band invaded a girl’s ballad. The only vocal in this song is lead singer Su-Metal
’s. Without back-up cutesy squeals and random screams, this track is the place where her vocals are allowed to expand and resound powerfully, and, then again, lead the track just as well as any metal singer. It is surprising how her vocals are not overwhelmed by the constant shredding of the Kami Band, which showcase their talents to the fullest. Bass solos and everything.
Following Amore, “Meta Taro” is perhaps, to me personally, the most negatively surprising song in the album. All three vocalists get their time to sing, which makes this sound a lot cuter and childish. That
wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, if that feeling wasn’t even empowered by the structure of the song, which sounds like an infantile christmas chorus, before surprisingly turning into a folk-metal song which resembles a battle hymn. The major problem with Meta Taro, perhaps, is the fact that it is all tied up not with the girls or the kami band’s talent, but with the male growls in the background to which we have no reference of. Some people should be able to overlook these problems and have a good time with the neat folk sections, but, unfortunately, I wasn’t. And
perhaps that is bound to happen with such a diverse record. There is something for everyone here, but nearly no one will be able to appreciate it all.
Another example of that is the track “From Dusk
”. Lyrical, syncopated vocals of all three girls form a beautiful harmony which complement a numb house electronic background and metalcore instrumentation. The track evolves to grand choruses and a Skrillex-like beat, which, then again, will not please everyone. However, Su-Metal
shines in this track, which shows perhaps the most technically well-executed vocal work we ever heard from such a young vocalist. Still, both the vocalwork and the music itself will place most metal fans out of their comfort zones, and that is for you to decide whether that's a bad thing or not.
number 8, “GJ!”, which is sung only by the younger Yuimetal and Moametal, is a low-pitched nu-metal song with an industrial twist, intercalated by rap-like verses and cute J-Pop choruses. The fact lead singer Su-Metal
isn’t present in this track does makes it sound a lot more childish and immature, but the presence of the background male screams is enough to compensate. The cutesy J-Pop, however, can and will prove too much for most metal fans, and at times some will, like me, feel an invasive desire to mute the girls voices and listen solely to the instruments and the background screams.
The next track, “Sis. Anger
”, was perhaps the song I was looking forward the most, and perhaps my personal biggest disappointment. Although a beautifully executed brutal tech-death with blackened sections, the only vocals in this track is, then again, Yui and Moa’s, which is enough to undermine this song potential. Without the lead singer or the background screams, the girl’s vocals are simply not mature nor strong enough to carry such a brutal piece on its own. Will
be, perhaps, in the near-future, when their vocals mature or when they learn how to scream properly, but, currently, their vocals simply do not match such a song. Some people will fall in love with the contrast, however, especially those who have liked the band’s first album to the fullest.
number 10, “No Rain
, No Rainbow
”, is another track sung solely by Su-Metal
, and it is a soft, romantic rock ballad, typical of the 80’s and the 90’s, comparable to some of Queen’s ballads in terms of musical structure and conveyance of emotion. Still, this is perhaps the most simple track of the entire album, both musically and vocally, and apart from the inspiring guitar duo, it is a cheesy, romantic and emotional ballad that some will love, while others will skip forward, in excitement for the eleventh track, “Tales of the Destinies”. The eleventh track of this rollercoaster is an epically complex progressive journey. Even those used to bands like Dream Theater
will be surprised, if not by the vocals, then by how well-executed and complex Tales of the Destinies is, which will require two to three listens before you’re aware of what is going on. Jazzy piano braks, electronics, intense shredding, obsessive-compulsive vocals perfectly harmonized with seemingly random screams and melodic power-metal sections compose this beautifully wrapped wild ride which takes you right into the final track, “The One
”. The final track is a melodic power ballad with a progressive influence that builds into beautiful catchy riffs and choruses, all sung in english. Despite
the uninspired lyrics, the music itself is enough for you to fall in love with this track, which feels like a thank you and wraps up the album in a positive manner. And
believe me, this description does not adds up to the amount of goosebumps you’ll have while listening to it.
After such a diverse experience, which sounds like a bow to metal music as a whole, it can be said that Babymetal
’s sophomore album Metal Resistance
definitely shows solid growth when compared to their debut album. Not only the vocals of lead singer Su-Metal
have developed in a mature sound with a wide range of melodic possibilities, comparable to perhaps some of the best symphonic metal’s female vocalists out there, but the entire proposal of the band has also matured. If their homonymous debut album was in majority a J-Pop record with metal breakdowns, Metal Resistance
can be considered a metal record with major pop influences – ranging from some of the song’s structure to catchy choruses and child-like vocals. And
although some of it may still feel overwhelming in certain tracks, such as Meta Taro, Metal Resistance
is still a metal experiment not to be taken lightly. The sheer instrumental talent of bassist Boh, guitarists Leda Cygnus and Mikio Fujioka and drummer Hideki Aoyama storm throughout the record, assisting the vocalists while executing nearly all metal music subgenres with such prime mastery that one would wonder whether this could be called experimentation, given the amount of planning and dead-on execution of the production team and the management. It does sounds fitting, however, after such a highly bipolar, but in essence pop debut record, which was enough to get the attention of J-Pop fans with its original mix, that the sophomore album Metal Resistance
is a step further towards the metal genre, luring those who initially fell for the band’s cute catchy pop into headbanging for brutal tech-death metal riffs. That
being said, it would be wise to keep an eye on this band, and root for the popularization of metal music in the current generation, and, why not, with the help of three teenage girls.