BABYMETAL - METAL RESISTANCE - (9/10)
Published on March 25, 2016
Defies the odds.
I think it’s safe to say that BABYMETAL have permeated the metal community since their self-titled debut album came out back in 2014. In just a short few months, the group rose from relative obscurity, in all but the most dedicated Japanese music scenes, to performing at Sonisphere and winning awards from Loudwire, Metal Hammer, and Kerrang! It’s been a remarkable ascent for the trio of girls, but not without their share of naysayers criticizing the band’s heavy J-pop influences and claiming them to be gimmicky. Now with the band’s sophomore album, METAL RESISTANCE, being released to massive hype and anticipation, all eyes are on BABYMETAL.
Whereas the debut album was written and recorded before BABYMETAL achieved their worldwide notoriety, METAL RESISTANCE is the band’s first real test with their newfound audience composed heavily of metalheads. If there’s one major difference from the last album, it’s that METAL RESISTANCE is much, much more focused and streamlined towards a metal sound. Not a single song here can be described purely as a pop song. “YAVA!” and “KARATE”, for example, are two tracks on the poppier side of the spectrum, and I would be hard-pressed to describe either one as a pop song. The latter, which is also the lead single from the album, has been receiving mass amounts of critical acclaim as of late, but I honestly view it as one of the weakest tracks here. On the other hand, the other single, “Road of Resistance”, which features the performance of Herman Li and Sam Totman of DragonForce, starts off the album with an insane amount of speed and riffing that really excites my inner power metal nerd.
Both Su-Metal, the older girl in the trio, and Black Babymetal, the duo of the younger girls, receive a couple of their own songs. Su-Metal’s pair of “Amore” and “No Rain, No Rainbow” harken back to X Japan’s classics, with “Amore” being a slightly superior counterpart to “Akatsuki” from the debut album. As you would expect, “No Rain, No Rainbow” is a somber ballad, but it honestly feels like it gets lost in translation, with it being an otherwise inoffensive power ballad that serves as a great lead-in to the fantastic couplet of songs that end the album.
“Tales of The Destinies” will definitely surprise everyone on first listen. It’s an absolutely hectic blend of progressive power metal and mathcore that works brilliantly. It is easily the craziest song BABYMETAL have ever released, and undoubtedly a highlight of the album. What remains to be seen is if they have the guts to perform it live and dance to some odd time signatures. Finally, “THE ONE”, sung entirely in English, is one of the strongest bookends I’ve heard for an album in some time. With its jubilant and triumphant melodies, this will no doubt become a crowd favorite and common encore.
The singing present here has definitely been toned down from the J-pop and vocaloid tendencies of the first album, with the Black Babymetal tracks being the exceptions, though they are also the heaviest songs musically. Speaking of, the musicianship and instrumentation on METAL RESISTANCE is on an entirely different level than the debut album. I think even the naysayers will praise the music here. Tracks like “YAVA!” and “Sis. Anger” are very different in terms of genre stylings, for example, but both are made infinitely more enjoyable and catchy thanks to the brilliant instrumentation.
One track I haven’t mentioned yet is “From Dusk Till Dawn”, the other English track on the album, which is only available in markets outside of Japan. I see this song becoming an early contender for song of the year. To describe it accurately is very difficult, but I’ve been telling friends of mine that it sounds like if Insomnium threw in some dubstep fills. The build-up and the atmosphere on this track is unlike anything the group has ever released, and we should all be very fortunate for its inclusion on the album for us.
To say this is an improvement over the debut album is an understatement. I don’t think anyone knew how BABYMETAL was going to approach a sophomore album after all the attention they’ve received in the metal community, but they have blown it away. There are only a couple of forgettable moments on the album, but none of them are bad. Instead, what we’re left with is an album that will surely please fans, receive a magnitude of awards, and penetrate the metal community even more so than BABYMETAL already has. METAL RESISTANCE defies the odds and delivers a listening experience that far exceeds that of the first album, and I am certain BABYMETAL’s world domination is just now beginning.