For a band playing on the theatricality of nightmares and darkness, the real nightmare is falling prey to the deadly “sophomore slump.” Babymetal is back with Metal Resistance, the follow up to their self-titled debut album that defied expectations and landed this trio of young J-pop starlets under the intense spotlight of success.
The first album was full of experimentation, each track attempting to intertwine a different style of music into their heavy metal backbone. Readying myself for listening to Metal Resistance, I worried that it would be the same, eventually running out of genres to pull from. But have no fear, these girls prove beyond a doubt they are no novelty or one-hit wonder.
The strongest radio-friendly single is easily “Karate,” which is why it was released first. It draws in the patented mixture of metal, techno, and pop that brought Babymetal to the attention of the world. “Karate” is also a challenge, like “Come and get me… if you dare,” issued to anyone who doubts their talent or viability as real presence in the metal world. I found myself quickly humming the tune for days, even though I had no idea how to pronounce the words.
“Tales of the Destinies” brings the biggest bang, while “Meta Taro” and “Sis. Anger” sound like battle marches, leading their fans into the arena to take on all comers. Keeping with their love of bringing in other genres, “Awadama Fever” grinds in with industrial techno flair, as if Babymetal was taking music classes from The Prodigy. Then reaching even father out of their norm, “Yava!” has a rhythm and chorus reminiscent of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, not something you’d expect to hear but it works nonetheless.
The main difference on Metal Resistance is the ballads. The band spent a good chunk of the album writing love songs to their fans. “Amore” still has the breakneck speed metal guitar, while “No Rain, No Tomorrow” shows off the double bass pedal. Each are heartfelt messages that transcend the music.
Then there is “THE ONE – English Version”, the most classic sounding ballad. This track is not uniquely important because of the musical styling or the language choice, although Su-Metal performs it quite well, but because it shows the intelligence of a band and management that knows their working on a global presence, not just their Japanese fanbase. Obviously they are not going to start doing all their songs in English, but this love song sends a touching note to their Western fans that they know you’re out there and they love you too.
From beginning to end, Metal Resistance is more than a solid second album from the devilish trio, but it shows continued growth and more comfort with coming into their own. Babymetal proves they have what it takes to continue in this industry so ready to throw newcomers to the wolves.