BABYMETAL - Live: Legend I, D, Z Apocalypse - (5/10)
Published on March 17, 2014
Naturally, after releasing three successful singles your first instinct is “We need a live concert DVD now. It doesn’t matter if 80% of our material is lip-synced; just put some flashy choreography on it.” That there is my revisionist history of how BABYMETAL’s Live: Legend I, D, Z Apocalypse came about. Never mind that the three girls had only six songs released across the three singles. The real kicker is that they somehow decided that the best possible live experience could only be achieved by recording three separate shows with a group whose setlists can only be so varied with their sub-ten songs. Each individual show is supposed to follow a mythology, named after the initials of “Ijime, Dame, Zettai”, that rivals the cheesiness of Manowar and Rhapsody of Fire, complete with intermittent cartoons during the concerts. Needless to say, I’m taking one for the team by reviewing this. Or at least that’s what I’m telling everyone.
Of course, the amount of enjoyment you get out of this live set correlates directly with your enjoyment of the music. But this is a live DVD, so I’m in no place to review the band’s music (again), hence it’s only fair to consider everything but.
The elephant in the room here is that the majority of the performances are not live, neither in terms of the band nor the girls. But that won’t stop BABYMETAL from trying to convince you that their “skeleton band” is actually performing, or that Yuimetal and Moametal, the younger girls, are actually growling at pitches that grown men can’t match. So obviously the focus is not on the music, but rather on the spectacle of the dancing and energy the girls put out. If you decide to watch this with the intention of enjoying anything but those qualities, you’re gonna had a bad time. At most points of the show, there is literally no difference between the songs on their debut CD and what you will hear emanating from your televisions.
It certainly doesn’t help either that the crowd is not audible throughout the songs’ durations. It’s a typical Japanese crowd, rife with glowsticks and quiet, but energetic, appreciation. In common fashion, they know all the words, but only feel like singing every fourth word of a song, and they have no problems chanting for an encore for two minutes straight. In this regard, what’s happening in front of the stage is much more akin to a J-pop concert. But what’s happening onstage is a bit of a different story.
The Legend “I” portion is pretty indicative of what to expect on the other two shows: bizarre choreography consisting of running around fast and air-fighting, laser shows, crystal-clear video, oddball gothic ceremonies that might make more sense if I spoke Japanese…the list goes on. My thoughts on this concert, and the other two for that matter, are just echoes of what I said in the album review. Su-metal, the lead singer, is the shining star here. Despite the lip-syncing, her performance seems the least phoned-in of the three girls. Her solo performance of “Akatsuki -Akatsuki-” is easily the highlight of the mimed portion of the show; the focus becomes more on the music and emotion that the song tries to convey rather than the hectic camerawork or dance moves, which there are none for this song. Once again though, Yuimetal and Moametal manage to piss me off with their presence. Their solo performance of “Onedari Daisakusen” is the low point of the show, complete with their incompetence at miming decently. There’s also a cover of a song by Kiba of Akiba early on, but it’s rather forgettable compared to the awe-inspiring masterpieces that BABYMETAL have conjured up, like “Doki Doki Morning”.
The saving grace of the “I” portion is the inclusion of two final encore songs performed entirely live with a new and different backing band, this time opting for corpse paint to replace the skeletons. So metal! All kidding aside, this portion really helps validate this band’s existence. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate Yuimetal and Moametal, and I curse the fact that I’ve memorized their names, but Su-metal’s vocal performance, as well as frantic dancing, on “Headbanger!!” and “Ijime, Dame, Zettai” prove that BABYMETAL are a little bit more than just an experiment gone awry.
Legend “D” is pretty much a carbon copy of the first show with the only major difference being the animation sequences and its strange setlist. Presumably, since the show was recorded on Su-metal’s 15th birthday, they decided to break out a couple of J-pop metal covers and a techno mix of “Headbanger!!”, and then play the original “Headbanger!!” at the end of the show anyway. The covers are an improvement over the original, but that’s not saying much on a metal site. Quite funnily, one of the covers is from a J-pop group that Su-metal was a member of before disbanding. The lore in this band runs deep. Unfortunately, there’s no live portion on this show, but rather a birthday storyline that seemingly culminates in the crucifixion of Su-metal. That’s pretty metal.
“Z” is the better of the three shows. It follows “I” closely in terms of setlist, and it also ends with the real live performances with the corpse paint band. For some reason, they opted to open AND close the show with “Ijime, Dame, Zettai” with the only difference being a costume change and a live band. But of the three shows, this is the longest, features less pointless covers, and includes what looks like the most exciting storyline portions, not that I can decipher what’s going on, albeit.
The best way to sum up this live DVD is with the following statement: “It’s three hours and 31 tracks from BABYMETAL”. If that gets you excited, by all means, watch the shows and enjoy the theatrics and the impressive visuals. If you couldn’t care less then at least watch one of the live tracks on YouTube, if only for the comedic effect, but this is definitely something that isn’t for most people. Hell, it took me two complete days to get through the redundancy of the three shows. This is very much a polarizing release, but at least it will fill the craving for many people’s BABYMETAL needs, at least until the next live DVD where we will hopefully see Yuimetal and Moametal get crucified.