sat 14/12/2019

CD: Babymetal - Metal Galaxy | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Babymetal - Metal Galaxy

CD: Babymetal - Metal Galaxy

Heavy metal meets cutesy Kawaii in an incongruous and deeply baffling blend

Babymetal - 'In its own bonkers way, admirably successful'

There’s something in the dichotomy of Babymetal that I just can’t fathom. Cutesy J-pop meets heavy metal. Sheeny bubblegum-bounce dance routines to thrash. Sweet teen vocals over shredding.

It’s like something that would get the audience vote on X Factor just because the entire nation wanted to piss off Simon Cowell. It shouldn’t work. And yet, bamboozlingly, they seem to have won over at least some of the hard core metal heads (Corey Taylor from Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Anthrax, Judas Priest) that should, by definition, think they’re a load of shite.

My own mindset adds to the conglomeration of conflict caused by the band. Some part of me wants to be pleased that three young girls dressed in black leather and tutus (Su-metal, Moametal and Yuimetal) won over this male-dominated genre and convinced them of their worthiness. But the other finds such fascination with teenagers dressed in Kawaii schoolgirl costumes creepy and exploitative.

With their latest album, Metal Galaxy, they are a little more grown-up now (20 years old) and Yuimetal has left the band. There’s no denying the entertainment factor is high. “Future Metal” launches the duo into a new cosmiverse of Muse-style sheen, with English lyrics about strapping yourself in for the ride. The bizarre amalgamation of Gangnam Style dance routines is rife in “Da Da Dance” which drops the voice distortion and concentrates on guitar grind, while “Shanti Shanti Shanti”, is a Bollywood/blast-beat infused rock mashup.

“Oj Majinai” is definitely my favourite. Basically because it reminds me of a ceilidh where too much whisky has been consumed and everything’s whirling and taking a sudden turn for the serious dark. It’s a bit like a local Cornish pirate shanty vocal group, with a definite Celtic something – I know not, exactly what.

“Night Night Burn!” is mostly pop with hardly any metal at all, and weirdly, by the time “Pa Pa Ya!!” (which sounds distinctly more signature nu-metal-kawaii) and particularly “Kagerou” come on I seem to be nodding my head along and imagining what larks it would be smashing it out in the mosh pit.

To the uninitiated, Babymetal makes all the hard core metal riffs and scary vocals more palatable, especially without all the roaring and constant cacophony of violent noise. It’s an odd juxtaposition, but one that however ludicrously manufactured has clearly managed to carve out an unexpected niche that, is in its own bonkers way, admirably successful.

 Watch the trailer for "Pa Pa Ya!"

Comments

It's hard to imagine Su doing something else. When I started following them years ago, I had some of the same thoughts but you come to realize that they really are prodigies. At Sonisphere,2014, there entrance to the world stage, first performance at a foreign festival. They walked on stage to see 60,000 people in the audience to their surprise. Looking over the crowd, Su said to herself, "now this is going to be fun." Su was born with a mic in her hand. Hard to imagine her doing something else. Oj Majinai is Su's favorite track off the new album too.

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