RAL/Sony Music Entertainment
Release Date: 1 April 2016
Review by Nathan Eden (Nat-Metal)
Many a metal fan will vehemently insist that Babymetal may be equated to the surging shit storm that is the Trump campaign; a target at which to aim your self-righteous hatred while keeping an eye out to ensure that nobody actually listens to them, lest they grow more powerful. A metal fan is a little like a staunch political partisan in the way they take a sense of pride in denouncing something radical. In the case of the metal head, if you’re a massive blackened-tech-death-crust-grind-tool-shed metal fan, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve got no nice words for Babymetal.
So yeah, we get it; Babymetal isn’t ‘true metal’. But surely Donald Trump isn’t a real person either and yet here he is on my TV. In the words of René Descartes; “I’m on the telly, therefore I am.” So let’s tuck away our benighted gavels and see if we can find a decent tune on the new Babymetal release, Metal Resistance.
The album kicks off with a suitably atmospheric builder, evoking the stirring Viking-feel just long enough to catch the listener off guard with a switch to relentlessly fast drums, that carry a five-minute display of what the band behind the girls can do. It’s a telling morsel of what’s to come in terms of how an apprehensive listener might go about enjoying three-quarters of the album. If you just can’t bring yourself to admit you enjoy the catchy bubble gum trio of voices, then you can surely sink your teeth in to the meaty grooves that flow beneath.
Whilst we’re on the subject, Suzuka Nakamoto, AKA, ‘Su-Metal’, mentions a handful of times how she’s going to fly away with the help of bubble gum during the four minutes of, Awadama Fever. She might not be big on physics, but it’s a chorus so unbelievably catchy that it’s bound to stick to your brain like…er, bubble gum on your shoe?
Of course, the insane catchiness of the J-Pop influence permeates the majority of the album. Second single, Karate, uses the martial art as a metaphor for fighting back after having your heart ripped out (metaphorically – this isn’t Cannibal Corpse, remember) The heroic story of, Meta Taro (Metal Boy) might well be a parody on the traditional Japanese tale of Momotaro. I could tell you for sure if my Japanese was better.
What I can tell you is that each of the forementioned is a very respectable musical accomplishment. There are a few tracks of meandering filler but there really is a lot to like on Metal Resistance if you’re prepared to look. With endorsements from the likes of such luminaries as Slash and Kirk Hammett, the band themselves are some of the finest in the Land of the Rising Sun. The sugary vocal parts of Su-Metal, YuiMetal, and MoaMetal, will ensure that most self-respecting metal heads won’t endorse the record in conversation, but rather, they’ll play it through headphones as they drift off to sleep, welcoming a land of rainbows and unicorns to soothe their blackened hearts. Probably.
Yes, Babymetal mix the gloss of J-Pop with our beloved metal. Yes, they opened for Lady Gaga. Yes, they are an idol band with some record executive marketing them as, ‘Kawaii metal’, but at least they aren’t Avril Lavigne, right?
Metal Resistance, might seem at odds with what we loved about metal in the first place. Personally, Deicide was probably the first band that legitimately scared me as a kid, that’s when I knew I loved metal. I can’t see Su-Metal doing a Benton and branding an inverted crucifix in to her head, but that doesn’t mean these tunes lack conviction.
I know you’re probably not going to tell your friends how much you like this record. Hell, I wouldn’t dare either. But they’re offering bedtime unicorns while Donald J Trump is offering to show us the next step towards the prophetic future-doco, Idiocracy.
You can also check out the new video, Karate. HERE