The idea of fusion music is nothing new, but when you talk about mixing pre-teen J-pop with death metal, now you’ve peaked my interest. Babymetal sounds like an insane idea for the sheer novelty of it, but somehow the group caught real life anime insanity in a bottle on their new, self-titled album, making music that actually works.
The persistent percussion and aggressively grinding guitar shows Babymetal is not to be toyed with, even if the costumes and theatrics make them look like creepy toys already. This is genre-bending at its loudest, but in some tracks it’s possibly at the breaking point.
Babymetal erupted on the metal scene back in 2010 and is the combination of a immensely talented backing band and a trio of young girls by the names of Su-Metal (lead vocals), Yuimetal (scream, dance), and Moametal (scream, dance). These are not their real names of course, but they are the characters they inhabit as the story of Babymetal weaves a tale of a deity known as the Fox God, who rules over the world of metal. He took in these three girls, renamed them, and they are now his prophets and leaders of the Metal Resistance.
The comic book-styled backstory may not mean a ton on paper but when brought to life in the live shows, it’s a whole new ballgame.
Babymetal has steadily risen the ranks of metal music and even pop music charts while also playing increasingly large sold-out shows at venues like the Budokan (20,000 seats), Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth (65,000 people), and the Forum in North London (sold out in a few hours). They were even brought out by Lady Gaga during her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball tour in the United States.
They’ve been slowly releasing singles, like “Ijime, Dame, Zettai,” “Megitsune,” and “Gimme Chocolate!!,” which through word of mouth and viral status online have gained them a massive following. “Gimme Chocolate!!” is the most catchy of those three, and if you like what you hear on this track, you’re good to go for the rest of the album. It’s the near-perfect blend of metal and pop, as it showcases the balancing act these girls do so well.
The album also has other musical pairings, like on the tracks “Doki Doki Morning” and “Uki Uki Midnight.” The former contains the most bubblegum-sounding refrains on the album, and the latter has strong resemblances to the dubstep world and land of Skrillex.
“Song 4” is a bit of sticking point for me with its odd drop into reggae. It feels a little more forced than the other musical mashups, but maybe I’m in the minority there.
From beginning to end, Babymetal and their debut album (which is already available digitally in the U.S. but drops physically on June 16) prove they are far from just a novelty act. They are a metal-laden wrecking ball, ready to destroy your expectations and blow your eardrums out, all while not being old enough to drink.
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