Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Written by: PP on 19/06/2016 15:40:35
The concept behind Babymetal is ridiculous: three Japanese teenage school girls singing with high-pitched, girly tones in their native language over technical power metal riffs that would make Dragonforce jealous, while embedding considerable J-pop influence on top. "Kawaii metal" (cute metal), as the locals call it. There's just no way that works in practice, right? Wrong again. What has taken Japan by storm on debut album "Babymetal" in 2014 is now experiencing a meteoric rise to fame in Europe through sophomore album "Metal Resistance", which challenges every preconception you have about how metal should and can sound like and turns it upside down. Old time metalheads will be turning in their collective graves for this one.
So, how to best explain Babymetal on paper. Opener "Road Of Resistance" is basically the band in a nutshell: insanely technical power metal riffage that sounds like something from a 90s video game, ultra down-tuned riffage to contrast that during other passages, and three Japanese school girls battling each other for room in the soundscape on top of it all, with the occasional contrasting growl from the backing band (Kami Band). It sounds like nothing you've ever heard before, yet it's simultaneously the most fun and the best thing you've heard in ages. The band can shred like there's no tomorrow, and the girls have perfectly captured a bridge between Japanese culture and Western pop melodies in one go. These songs are infectiously catchy - just listen to the chaotic "Karate" or to the unforgettable chorus melodies of "あわだまフィーバー". No matter whether the songs are heavy or poppy, Babymetal demonstrate a knack for writing ultra catchy vocal melodies merged with equally catchy distorted, metallic instrumentation.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any more ridiculous, "META! メタ太郎#"arrives. It could basically be a Babymetal cover of Amon Amarth. If you ever wondered how Viking metal would sound like with Japanese teenagers singing instead of the Norse roar, where the song transitions into a happy-themed Chinese military march tune during its chorus, this is it. Immediately after, "シンコペーション" sounds like a crazy technical metalcore tune with dynamic leads and rapid-fire drumming, before the J-pop vocals take over once again. It's so over-the-top it's difficult to take it seriously. But then again, when your starting concept is what Babymetal is, if you're not approaching it in a tongue-in-cheek manner, you're doing it wrong.
Is it gimmicky? Yes. Does the novelty wear off? Not nearly as quickly as it probably should. The reason for that is that their songwriting prowess is beyond your basic gimmick bands like The Bunny The Bear, Wolf-Face or Van Canto. The songs are well-written, memorable, and most importantly, vary considerably throughout the course of "Metal Resistance", so much like Alestorm's pirate metal and GWAR's monster rock, Babymetal both sound and look like a band that's here to stay. Prepare to be mind = blown over this soundscape.
Download: Karate, Road Of Resistance, あわだまフィーバー
For the fans of: Dragonforce, Blind Guardian, Sonic Boom Six
Release date 01.04.2016