Hoping to prove their doubters wrong are teen J-pop idols-turned-kawaii metal phenomenon’s BABYMETAL are back with their second album Metal Resistance. After the runaway success of their self-titled debut which featured a mish-mash of genres including J-pop, speed metal, power metal, reggae, dubstep and even crunk, expectations were high for this one, with many of us wondering – what on earth are they going to do next?
Firstly, let us begin by saying this album sounds huge. The production is slick and has obviously had a lot of money thrown at it, which is only to be expected considering the band’s manufactured origins. Opening with the epic ‘Road to Resistance’ featuring Dragonforce guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman, BABYMETAL mastermind Kobametal has written a bona fide metal anthem, combining breakneck speed metal with an infectiously catchy chorus and plenty of arena-worthy “Woahs”. Recent single ‘KARATE’ is one of the catchiest and best songs on the album, beginning with distorted drum beats and launching into a killer groove metal riff. It borrows some of the elements that made ‘Gimme Chocolate’ popular – the cute ‘screaming’ courtesy of Yuimetal and Moametal, and a heavily J-pop influenced chorus, but bears an overall slighty more mature sound with gothic overtones.
Lead singer Su-metal‘s powerful voice has improved vastly, hitting high notes with ease and possessing a warm tone on the lows. She’s really come into her own as a frontwoman, and on stage (as you will learn from our review of their Wembley Arena show) it’s like she was born to be a metal singer. Some might scoff at that remark, but just listen to the likes of ‘The One’ and tell us you don’t agree. The only English language song on the album, it’s an ambitious testimony of how far they’ve come and is destined to be performed at huge arena shows. ‘Tales of Destinies’ is an all-out progfest, so much so that we almost mistook it for Rush. One of the most technical songs we’ve heard from BABYMETAL, it’s packed full of complex guitar passages and time signature changes.
Other notable mentions are ‘YAWA’ with its ska punk verses drawing comparions with fellow J-rock band Maximum The Hormone and the absolutely bizarre ‘Meta Taro’ which starts of sounding like a Japanese nursery rhyme, then quickly transforms into a metal sea shanty that wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on an Alestorm album. As great as all of this is, there are some bits that don’t quite work. The quite obviously pitched up ‘screamed’ vocals begin to grate in places, and feel a bit unnecessary at times, like on ‘Sis Anger’, which is otherwise a great track with plenty of attitude.
What BABYMETAL will do next after this is anyone’s guess. Realistically, in their existing form they have a shelf life, but for now we’re quite happy that this utterly bonkers creation exists. Kitsunes up!