The Western world has embraced Japanese culture for decades now: from Godzilla to geisha’s, sumo wrestling to sushi – we love a bit of the Far East. The only export from Japan that hasn’t taken off worldwide is their music. Japanese pop music, or ‘J-pop’, is a huge deal in Asia and is always well produced but hardly ever heard on these shores. Understandable because it is totally unique in compared to music in the UK Top 40. And even further removed from our fondness of rock and metal. Nevertheless, producer Kobametal formed a group which fuses J-pop with heavy metal – BABYMETAL.
Fun fact: the Japanese word for ‘heavy’ is pronounced ‘bebi’. Hence ‘BABYMETAL’. This band consists of three female lead vocalists (Su-Metal, Yui Metal and Mometal) with a backing band of extremely talented rock musicians. We see this is more than just a gimmick from opening track BabyMetal Death, which is a perfect introduction to this project. Ominous chanting and synths leading to what feels like an explosion of guitars and double pedals that Kerry King or Lars Ulrich would be proud of. Accompanied by demonic death-metal vocals, this is not something to be taken lightly. Also known as We Are BabyMetal this serves as their theme tune.
The following track Megitsune has elements of EDM, thrash and harmonised vocals. It’s a cluster of what would usually be clashing styles; but strangely works in this context. At times this track as well as others, such as Doki Doki Morning, sound a little like a song intended for a trashy anime movie…starring Napalm Death.
Gimme Chocolate!! is the track you are most likely to hear from this album as it has received generous airplay from rock radio stations. This could be played on mainstream radio due to it’s catchy melody and utterly insane guitars, synths and drums. This is the thrash metal equivalent of happy hardcore – in Japanese. This track will be in your head for days on end, even if you don’t understand the lyrics! Strangely, it also features a face-melting guitar solo in there. It’s like someone has scientifically created the most energetic music ever heard by human ears.
At this point it’s worth mentioning there is some really bizarre breakdowns on this album. Line! features hip-hop, Dani Filth-esque grunting, and pumping house sections in it’s 4:08 entirety. It’s strange to think a J-pop/metal band can include all these elements successfully, and the likes of Limp Bizkit have been trying to do this their whole career. Speaking of Fred Durst and co – they seem to have heavily influenced the track Onedari Daisakusen (aka Begging Operation) which has some familiar sounding vocal samples and is reminiscent of Bizkit’s hit Nookie. Fortunately this song is about asking your Dad for pocket money, rather than Nookie (phew!) Even the guitars sound a little bit like Wes Borland. This is a surreal combo but again..it works!
Some special editions of this album features the track Road Of Resistance with DragonForce guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman. The dual guitars certainly go well with SuMetal’s vocal, and we think this album will appeal to DragonForce fans too. Which is the best thing about BABYMETAL, any rock fan can get in to it – if they don’t mind having fun that is!
Standout Track: Gimme Chocolate!!
For Fans Of: We’re not even sure! Metal and having fun.
Written by: Neale McGeever