My thoughts on the long awaited sophomore album from pop culture phenomenon BABYMETAL.
Release Date: April 1st 2016
1. Road of Resistance
3. Awadama Fever
6. Meta Taro
7. From Dusk Till Dawn
9. Sis. Anger
10. NO RAIN, NO RAINBOW
11. Tales of The Destinies
12. THE ONE (English ver.)
BABYMETAL are a group that probably don’t need much in the way of an introduction at this point. Over the past couple of years the group has seen itself catapulted from Japanese idol pop obscurity to pop culture icon status. Even if you have no interest in Japanese music, idols or heavy metal music, you’ve heard of BABYMETAL. My mom knows what BABYMETAL is, if that’s not proof of their current status globally then I don’t know what is.
That being said, the sophomore slump is a cruel beast. No group is safe from its clawing grasp and coming into this I was interested to see how BABYMETAL were going to fare. I wasn’t fortunate enough to be sent a review copy like all these other hacks, so I’ve been sitting here for the last week recovering from this flu virus and watching the early reviews roll in. They’re all very positive from what I’ve seen, but they’re also very vague too. It’s almost like people listened to the couple of songs that were available on YouTube and based their review solely on that. Surely not though, right?
Well, I’m not getting paid by anyone to write this review so I can pretty much just say whatever I want. I’m not one to shy away from voicing my opinion so what you’re going to get here is my honest opinions on “METAL RESISTANCE”. I know how a lot of fandoms work (hi Reddit!) and I know people can be touchy if people have a different opinion to their own. If you’re one of those people then maybe this review isn’t for you, and that’s fine. For everyone else, here are my completely unbias thoughts on the new BABYMETAL album.
Oh yeah, in case it wasn’t obvious, I’m going to be reviewing the “International” version of this album. It’s what’s readily available to me living here in Europe so that’s what we’re going to use. There isn’t really a huge difference anyway, I think track 7 varies depending on what version you buy and I think the Japanese version has “THE ONE” in Japanese instead of English or something. It’s kinda cool I guess, but it’s a pain in the ass if you’re a completionist. Oh well, I’m sure there’ll be a “Complete Edition” somewhere down the line.
Getting into my actual thoughts on the album and yeah, there’s some decent songs in here. “Karate” being a personal standout as probably the best song on the whole record. “Awadama Fever” is also a pretty fun listen, straying a little from the heavy metal side of things into almost punk rock territory. I think they’re singing about chewing gum or something, shame about those drum machines and synths though.
“GJ!” sees “BLACK BABYMETAL” make their comeback with some well executed rapping and general hyping of the listener. I kinda have a soft spot for the rap/metal combo, so this kinda thing really works for me. “Onedaeri Daisakusen” from BABYMETAL’s debut album was a personal favorite of mine, so I was happy to see Yui and Moa get featured on a song with a similar kind of theme and playfulness.
I feel like I should also mention “Meta Taro”, which sees BABYMETAL make an attempt at a “Battle Metal” song. It doesn’t quite come off as well as it could have, mainly due to them trying to mix in a lot of up-beat elements that don’t quite fit the mold. The instrumentals are pretty great though, so I applaud the effort even if the final product fell a bit short.
Unfortunately this is kinda where the positives end for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love the aforementioned three songs and “Meta Taro” is definitely on the right track, but I kinda struggled to get into the rest of the album.
To elaborate on the problems I had with “METAL RESISTANCE”, one of the main things is that there’s way too many synths, drum machines, dubsteps and what have you on this album. I don’t know if this is just the new hip thing to throw into your heavy metal songs or what, but back in my day, the most extravagant a metal song ever got was having some violins or maybe an accordion. I don’t know, maybe the kids like this stuff but it’s not what I’m listening to metal for.
Another thing I noticed while listening to this album is that a lot of these songs just seem to lack any kind of direction. Take “Sis. Anger” for example, it’s a pun on a Metallica song/album of course and yeah the instrumentals are kinda Metallica-ish. Then you just kinda have Yui and Moa shouting random things over the top of it.
I don’t get it, and perhaps an even bigger culprit of this is “Tales of the Destinies”. I have no idea what the purpose of this track is supposed to be, there’s singing kinda so I guess it’s a song but it somehow manages to come off more like an interlude than anything. I just find it really hard to see what the point of including this track was.
I’m probably going to get a lot of heat for this, but I’m also not really that into either of the Suzuka solo songs on this album. I mean, the guitar wanking on “Amore” is cool and all, but nothing about the song is all that memorable. Then we have “No Rain, No Rainbow” which is a piano ballad of all things. It’s nice and all, but it’s a pretty jarring thing to just chuck onto the end of your heavy metal record. Pretty perplexing song choice to be honest with you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure for most people “METAL RESISTANCE” is a pretty decent and certainly well produced album. Perhaps a little bit too well produced, in that a lot of it comes off sounding pretty squeaky clean and I think some of the edges have been rubbed at a little bit too much with the polish. Their debut wasn’t super gritty or anything but I feel like it had a bit more charm and personality to it.
I’m sure people will say that I’m being much too hard on BABYMETAL, their writers, producers and this album. I mean I guess maybe I am, but then again I’m not the one trying to market myself as a somewhat legitimate metal act. If you’re going to do something like that and lean heavily on other bands in the genre as your influences then comparisons and critiques are more than fair game. I’m not trying to hate, I’m just being realistic.
So yeah, “METAL RESISTANCE” is sorta just okay I guess. It’s not quite as much of a parody as I feared it would be so I guess that’s a positive. However, it’s by no means a great album and it’s definitely not “changing the landscape of heavy metal” or whatever that idiotic quote I read from some reviewer said. Also, while putting this review together I took a listen to track 7 on the Japanese version. I would trade “From Dusk Till Dawn” for that track (“Syncopation”) every single second of every single day of every week.