AOTY? Nah, but it’s pretty good, though.
For the past couple of years Japan’s BABYMETAL have sparked the age-old debate over what should be allowed to fall under the ridiculously wide umbrella of metal and still be considered 'metal'. With their new album, 'Metal Resistance', that's not going to change. Why? Because those in the community who label themselves as the “real” metalheads, always complain that the music industry and the media focus too much on this particular band, so much so that they are missing out on covering the smaller, local metal bands out there that need the attention and support. Well, this writer has an answer for those people as to why so much attention is afforded. So lean in close Padawan, and he will tell you...
It’s because BABYMETAL, as a whole, is the very definition of very weird and quirky, and because more importantly they are, you know, ACTUALLY FUCKING INTERESTING TO LISTEN TO!
Oh cool, you’re a local deathcore band that’s influenced by Whitechapel and Thy Art Is Murder? That’s cool, we guess. Sorry, what’s that? You play guitar in an instrumental jazz-fusion, progressive band and have a burning passion for fedoras? Eh, not like we don't have a ton of those nowadays. Wait...you’re telling us that you’re in a band that sounds like a speed/power metal version of Periphery that replaced Spencer Sotelo with three Japanese girls (all of whom use the word ‘metal’ in their stage names, and have ridiculous choreographed dance moves) that belt out huge hooks and melodies, while their incredibly talented backing band slams out some powerfully intricate metal like any band on Nuclear Blast or Metal Blade Records could? And there’s some made-up band lore about them being the prophets of someone/something called the “Fox God”??? Yo, sign us up! Now!
It's what Jamey Jasta always says on his podcast - you need a good look and have an interesting narrative for yourself. While these guys aren't perfect, they have A LOT going for them right now in both the look and narrative departments.
But look, maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. If you somehow haven’t heard this band before, their sound is a crossover of catchy J-pop mixed in with all the best parts of power and speed metal, with some synth sprinkled over the top for good measure. Musically, the guitar riffs and chugs are both heavy and fast, the leads and the solos are huge and dazzling like countless other metal bands, the growls and screams are brutal, the drumming is as tight as can be, and the production and mix is just as polished as you would see in any other high-profile rock/metal release. Huh, that sure sounds a lot like a metal band to us.
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The band's geographical location and the hybrid take on these genres makes them immensely more interesting and attention grabbing than most other bands going, with the exception of maybe Slipknot, Ghost, The Dillinger Escape Plan (if only for their insane stage presence and bonkers brand of hardcore), and the always controversial Gorgoroth. This is the same reason why Crossfaith became so big, so quickly, and the same reason why fellow Japanese act, Maximum The Hormone, are still so big in Asian countries – they just aren’t your typical bands.
Sure, it can be argued that Donald Trump is also interesting and attention grabbing, for all the wrong reasons of course (he's also not your typical presidential candidate either), but these guys and gals have one solid album on their hands, and it would still be that way with or without the flashy extras.
'Metal Resistance' presents you with banger after banger, from opening anthem 'Road Of Resistance' to the epic 'From Dusk Till Dawn', to the dark and punchy 'GJ!', the album is not only riddled with the band's surging confidence, it's damn consistent and leagues ahead of their debut effort. However, once you hit the piano-ballad 'No Rain, No Rainbow' that's when things get shaky. It's a very forced song and pretty cliché (yes, even more so than the others), then you have 'Tales of Destinies', similar to preceding tracks like 'Karate' and 'Road Of Resistance' but it simply can't hang like they can and feels unnecessary. Also, the band's music works better in their native tongue, which causes the English version of 'The One' to falter a little.
Okay, real talk time.
BABYMETAL are a pretty silly and gimmicky band, let's be real, and their music is unsurprisingly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, coffee, or whatever the hell you drink. They are too heavy for some pop fans (both Western and Eastern, and especially those who like the band ironically don't count) and they are too pop for da "true" metalheads out there. But there's a big crowd and a market for this sound and, as we said before, when you strip away their costumes, masks and the dance moves you still have a pretty cool band, with a damn solid record.
In our recent interview with Joel Stroetzel from Killswitch Engage, he said that he considers something metal if it is 'loud, energetic and aggressive'. Well, by that logic BABYMETAL definitely fits the entry conditions for being metal pretty damn well. And shockingly, like a lot of metal bands, they have elements to their music that aren't exclusive to the genre. Please, hold your gasps till the end. Now, while this album does fall apart in its final stretch, there are some damn solid tunes to be found on 'Metal Resistance' and you should definitely give this a listen or two, or forever be that clueless, uncultured bastard in our current zeitgeist. Oh, and don't feel weird about listening to this band. Seriously, fuck metal elitists and fuck guilty pleasures - just enjoy what you genuinely like. Life is too short for that BS after all.
Still... these guys have got nothing on LadyBaby.
1. Road Of Resistance
3. Awadama Fever
7. From Dusk Till Dawn
9. Sis. Anger
10. No Rain, No Rainbow
11. Tales of Destinies
12. The One (English Version)