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GIK Acoustics - Europe
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The Moshville Times

Review: Babymetal – Metal Resistance

Babymetal - Metal ResistanceAs someone without an opinion about Babymetal, I thought myself best placed to review this new album from Japan’s hottest metal export since… erm… coldrain and Vow Wow. Who are, I confess, the only two other Japanese rock acts I can come up with off the top of my head. The rest of our Crew sit very firmly on one side of the fence or the other: “SQUEE! Best thing ever!” or “What. The. Hell is this garbage?” It only takes two minutes online to see that the metal community is pretty much divided over this act.

For those who don’t know, Babymetal consists of three Japanese girls (still teenage, I believe) who go by the stage monikers of Su-Metal (Vocal,Dance), Yui-Metal (Scream,Dance) and Moa-Metal (Scream,Dance). No real mention is made of the band’s musicians who – it turns out – are actually pretty long-standing members of Japan’s rock and metal scene. Originally mimes playing to a backing track, as Babymetal grew in popularity these performers were replaced by a “proper” band. One member, Takayoshi Ohmura, used to play guitar with Marty Friedman so we’re not talking about a few musicians who can strum a chord or two. Credit where it’s deserved – the band are good.

The girls joined the band as part of one of those “Idol” TV shows and had no idea about metal when they did so. So, a manufactured band. Not the best of starts from that point of view.

However, start they did. Their first single cracked a million YouTube views in short order and they ended up being the youngest act ever to play Japan’s Budokan venue. Twice. To sell-out audiences. The shows were released as live recordings. These shows were book-ended with multiple international dates as far afield as Europe, the US and the UK.

At the end of 2014, they played at Brixton Academy and debuted a song called “Road of Resistance”, a collaboration with DragonForce’s Herman Li and Sam Totman. This, as it happens, is the first song on Metal Resistance and as a result the first Babymetal track I ever heard. Funnily enough, even without knowing the song’s background my initial thought was “this sounds like DragonForce with Japanese girls singing on it”.

The vocals are embedded deep within the music with the alternate harsh and clean vocals working incredibly well. It’s undeniably a breakneck speed DragonForce track and credit to the band themselves for going along with the “joke” of Babymetal by even having them guest at their appearance at Download last year.

But is Babymetal a joke? Listening to the album I’m getting the feeling that though it may have started off as a bit of a piss-take, or at least a “let’s see what people make of this”, they’ve developed into a genuine musical act who absolutely have something going for them. Take Totman and Li out of the equation and how are the rest of the songs on the album? Erm. Good. They’re good. Very good, in fact.

Flapping my hands around a bit to grasp at random thoughts, I can hear influences from the aforementioned DragonForce (again in the likes of “Amore”), Linkin Park, Slipknot (the DJ-mixed intro to “Awadama” followed by the absolutely crushing distorted guitar), and pretty much every bubblegum pop band regardless of whether they came from Osaka, Seoul or North London. And it works. Somehow against all expectation it doesn’t sound like an unholy, hacked-together mess. Track down the theme music for the kids’ cartoon Teen Titans Go and you’ll have an idea of the style. Or check out “Karate” below.

Cute vocals overlaid on the heaviest, thrashiest beats just emphasises that someone somewhere has a great ear for mixing styles. The songwriters, performers and producers deserve some credit for this. By the time I was four or five tracks through, I was converted. One decent track is a UK success – that one-hit wonder that gets to number one in the charts based on novelty value. But halfway through an album with every track a belter? That’s no fluke. That’s talent.

I could go through each track, but RockSound already did a decent job of that. I’ll just quickly mention that there’s a wealth of variety on here. Mainly it’s fast and heavy with an edge of the drum/bass/electronic stuff. The songs which stand out for being particularly different are “Meta Taro” and “The One”.

“Meta Taro” is a marching song, slow and ploddy rather than skin-shreddingly fast. “The One” is different as it addresses pretty much my only issue with the rest of the album – that I can’t speak Japanese. It’s also one of the lightest tracks – pretty much a hard rock ballad – so you do get a chance to really appreciate the singing as well as the fact that it’s in English. “No Rain, No Rainbow” does a similar job in Japanese.

I appreciate that this has ended up being more of a feature than a review, but as I said at the start people fall into two camps. For those who love Babymetal already, I can’t for a second see this album disappointing you. For those who hate them on principle, if this collection can’t persuade you to at least give them a chance for the music then nothing will. Anyone who’s not heard of them before would be doing themselves a favour to check it out when you get a chance.

Metal Resistance is out on April 1st, and the band play Wembley Arena (sold out, I believe) the following night. I am jealous of those who are going!

Babymetal: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube | spotify

About The Author

Mosh

Father of three. Teacher of Computing. PADI divemaster. Krav Maga Assistant Instructor. Geordie. Geek. Nerd. Metal nut. I also own and run a website - you may have heard of it.

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Keith
Keith
March 23, 2016 5:33 PM

What an excellent review. You haven’t really appreciated this band until you see them live. Don’t miss out on Wembley they are on a totally different level. The ”Kami” or back band aren’t just good they were drawn from the best of the best of the best of available talent. As for the ”idol” background. They came from an Idol group called Sakura Gakuin. An Amuse talent agency training ground for young talent signed to them. This is very different from a UK perspective of a TV show. Out of the 12 members they formed different subgroups (common with Japanese… Read more »

Keith
Keith
Reply to  Mosh
March 24, 2016 8:42 AM

It’s that ”oh but they didn’t know anything about metal” tag that journo’s the world over regurgitate that gets me. I mean when you were eleven did you run home from school, drag on the leathers, get the Harley out of the garage, buy the beers and hop on the ferry to Norway for a weekends church burning ?

Lee
Lee
Reply to  Keith
March 31, 2016 3:20 PM

I saw them at Sonisphere and Brixton Academy, I’m going to Wembley as well, and I agree Keith. It is only when you see them live you appreciate just how good they are. As you say the Kami Band certainly aren’t a group of makeweights, they can all serious play and of the three girls I can see why Su-Metal carries the lead vocals, she is a very, very, talented singer with a superb voice.

MarkSCoot1988
MarkSCoot1988
March 23, 2016 6:13 PM

interesting… new music. I’ve decided to give it a shot.

Jason
Jason
March 23, 2016 6:14 PM

Wembley is NOT sold out,…yet… very few tickets left. SO GET ONE AND GO! You won’t regret it!

Squidster
Squidster
Reply to  Mosh
March 24, 2016 1:54 AM

What? You in in the same land mass as a BABYMETAL show, and you’re NOT going??
You gotta be bonkers man! GO! It’s once in a lifetime thing. They won’t sound the same next year already! And you’ll be witnessing freakin’ HISTORY; the first JAPANESE act to headline the hallowed Wembley! GO!

Jurianne
Jurianne
March 24, 2016 2:09 AM

I really appreciate your input on this group. I have been a fan since their release of Megitsune and can’t help but see the evolution of this group. It was truly an amazing journey. I came across online and in real life many fans and non-fans, from worshipers to haters. I can see the impact that this group is having on people and it is just out of this world. Kudos to you for giving them a chance and more cookies for you for also liking them. On side note, Herman Li and Sam Totman didn’t co-write as mentioned though.… Read more »

Miki Reiss
Miki Reiss
Reply to  Jurianne
March 25, 2016 12:29 PM

No, they write the guitar part. They work on the in since 2013 (checked out some interviews). You don’t spend a year and half to play thing thats already written

Miki Reiss
Miki Reiss
Reply to  Miki Reiss
March 25, 2016 12:30 PM

*they work on it

Mike M.
Mike M.
March 24, 2016 4:12 PM

Nice review man. Is a pleasure to read intelligent views, whether favorable to the band or not. Some metal threads I refuse to even look at due to the caveman mentality. I am a 4 decade long metal fan (yes I started with Sabbath in the 70’s, and have run every sub-genre of metal since). I’ve been playing in metal bands for 30 years on and off, so I have some metal cred. The only other bands of the last 20 or so years to really excite me like this were System of a Down and Lamb of God. At… Read more »

Lee
Lee
Reply to  Mosh
March 31, 2016 3:25 PM

I can’t believe there won’t be a full UK tour either later this year or early next year.

I think they seriously under-estimated the UK market, probably understandably as they are on the other side of the world and the songs are in Japanese but as Wembley is pretty much sold out and if the UK album sales are strong it would be foolish not to do a full tour.

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April 6, 2016 11:22 AM

[…] were questionable however their new album Metal Resistance has smashed that theory out the water (we reviewed it recently). They are not a gimmick after the quality of songs that have been produced on this new album. But […]

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