It’s only been a month since I became aware of Babymetal‘s existence through an over-enthusiastic friend. Babymetal is, I’ve since learned, a Japanese band that is… well, on second thoughts, just google it. What I can say is that they are anything but typical. The vocalists are three teenage girls, Suzuka Nakamoto aka Su-Metal, Yui Mizuno aka Yui-Metal and Moa Kikuchi aka Moa-Metal, who combine dance routines along with singing during live performances. They are supported by a live band, Kami Band.
I was not sold on the idea of cute Japanese teens singing to heavy music while dancing about in frilly skirts. And to claim that “that” was metal? Audacious. Sacrilege. But when their second album, Metal Resistance, was featured by Loudwire alongside the likes of Megadeth‘s Dystopia and Amon Amarth‘s Jömsviking as the year’s best metal albums so far, I was tempted. I eventually gave in.
Metal Resistance is a refreshing record. One reason for that is simply the fact that listening to the usual metal bands takes a toll on your senses, physically and mentally. Just listen to a Meshuggah record. Yes, it is ultimately rewarding but the abrasive singing (growling? grunting?) enervates your ears and the technicality of the instruments strains your brain. It becomes exhausting. With Babymetal, there is something reinvigorating and welcoming about the clean, and at times, almost graceful vocals. This is not to say that Metal Resistance is a low-tech no-frills album. Quite the contrary actually as the top-notch production and the stellar musicianship attest. Yet, it is accessible without being tawdry.
The other reason is the variety. Really. Metal albums are, as a general rule, genre specific. Not so with Metal Resistance. Each song in the album has a different character. You’d be surprised at how much the creators crammed into this album. The album keeps you on your feet. It doesn’t bore you with repetition. From the power metal pryotechnics in Road of Resistance (thanks to, not unexpectedly, Herman Li and Sam Totman of DragonForce) to the military rhythms of Meta Taro to the full-on ballad complete with an uncanny Brain May-esque solo that is No Rain, No Rainbow, the album is on the whole an aural treat. The standout track for me was Amore. It is fast; it is refined and damn it, it is, as you might have guessed from the title, a song about love. Well there are other songs about chocolate and bubblegum but that’s beside the point!
Resistance is Futile…
Or so would Blabbermouth have us believe. I initially disliked the band based on nothing more than a vague description of their external imagery. I had not heard a single song then. How foolish of me! I am glad that I checked them out. I am a convert now. It is difficult to imagine the band having the same appeal in say ten years from now, but for the moment, resistance is indeed futile.