There’s been a lot, and I mean A LOT of things said about BABYMETAL, both good and bad They are definitely a very polarizing group, one that I happen to enjoy immensely. And oh yes, I have been ridiculed to death by some of my metal peers but I don’t give a damn because I know what my ear holes like, and they loooooove some BABYMETAL. As soon as I heard “Gimme Chocolate!!” the first time I was all in. It was also my ringtone for a long time, but I had to change it because it was clear Mrs. Amps was going to murder me in my sleep if I didn’t. So, two years removed from their self-titled debut comes Metal Resistance, out now via RAL/Sony Music Entertainment.
Musically the songs are heavier in many places than on the last disc. The Kawaii factor is still piled high, and there are a few generous helpings of cheese. The thing is though, you know what you’re getting when you have a Japanese metal idol band, so what the Hell are you really expecting? Meanwhile some of the biggest names in rock and metal have warmly embraced the trio, from SLASH to members of ANTHRAX. In fact, guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman from DRAGONFORCE appear on opening track “Road of Resistance” turning it into an all-out shredfest of monumental proportions with a BIG chorus to boot.
SU-METAL (lead vocals, dance), YUIMETAL (scream, dance), and MOAMETAL (scream, dance) seem especially comfortable this time around while still managing to have fun. “Karate” ventures into the land of breakdowns a bit, but goddamn is that hook catchy, while my favorite track “Awadama Fever” will probably have most of you dancing around your home or office when no one’s looking. Another one that sticks in my head for days is “Meta Taro” with its marching beat that feels like you’re supposed to be planting a flag at the top of some mountain you’ve just climbed.
I think what a lot of the detractors don’t get is just how talented the backing musicians are in this band. They go from crushing heavy metal riffs (“GJ!”) to rock/pop danceable fare (“Yava!”), sometimes within the same song and they make it look easy with every time change. That kind of tightness only comes from mastering your instrument and gelling with others who have done the same, as these players have. One needs only to look at some of the live footage out there, you’ll see these guys aren’t dicking around.
Another album standout that I guarantee you’ll be humming all day long (because let’s face it, how many of us are fluent in Japanese, right?) is “Amore”. This is heavy on the shred like the disc opener, and the three voices mesh very well together. The bass and drums are off the charts, too. “From Dusk Till Dawn” comes out of left field, both in pacing and sound. This feels like something that would be part of a film score and is highly enjoyable. The heavy returns with “Sis. Anger” while still managing to sound cute and fuzzy.
“No Rain, No Rainbow” is right out of the 80’s ballad playbook but you’ll never hear me complain because I lived through that era and it was one of the best for music, period. “Tales of the Destinies”, much like “Meta Taro” sounds like it’s painting a picture. WHAT that picture is I have no idea, but it feels like a broad, sweeping landscape of some sort, one I’d be happy to hang in my office. This is also the most complex arrangement on the record because there is a ton of stuff happening. Closer “The One” is sung entirely in English and ends the BABYMETAL party nicely.
All told I am very, very happy with Metal Resistance. There’s not a bad track to be found, and the growth since the debut is exponential. Real solid writing along with excellent musicianship has a tendency to yield these kinds of results. They’ll be here in Philly May 7 and I can’t wait. At the end of the day I love what these girls do, and I’m a proud BABYMETAL fan until they give me a reason not to be…case closed.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Awadama Fever”, “Meta Taro”, “Amore”, “From Dusk Till Dawn”, “Tales of the Destinies”, “Road of Resistance”