In the event that you’re unfamiliar w/ BABYMETAL, it’s a fusion of metal and the culture of “Japanese Idol”. (If you don’t know what that is and care, Google it.) While the idea of a manufactured metal group may be off-putting to many metal heads who like the idea of a garage-born band overcoming the plight of the underground music scene to stardom, or at least cult following, it’s not exactly uncommon in the entertainment industry. Newsflash – this is Earth, where almost nothing is real!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I like to analyze this music in two parts – vocals vs. the instrumental, because that is the defining difference, methinks, of BABYMETAL and other metal that might be comparable. While many subgenres of metal incorporate soaring vocals, they’re usually performed by tenors or adult females who could probably beat you up with their glare alone. The front women, all of whom are in their late teens, of BABYMETAL switch between child-like, happy-go-lucky vocal runs and more melodic, heartfelt singing. If you’ve heard of anime, you could say it conjures such emotions; however, when they belt, their vocals are impressive, not to mention some periodic dense harmonizes. I don’t know who wrote those parts, but job well done, yo!
What really pulled me into this group is the instrumental performance. The album kicks off w/ “Road Of Resistance,” the guitar writing of which is very reminiscent of DragonForce, which makes sense because it turns out that Herman Li and Sam Totman of DragonForce teamed up w/ BABYMETAL for the production of this song. The thrash gets pretty real and the drumming sounds like something that could be part of a P90X workout. The lead guitar writing is impressive, to say the least. Unfortunately, the only instrument player I’m familiar with of this group is Takayoshi Ohmura, who went to GIT and has toured with other guitar monsters like Marty Friedman. That being said, the whole band is composed of top shelf musicians. One of my fave moments on the album are the breaks in “Amore” that are filled BASS shred, seguing into a shred guitar solo. Beasts. They are beasts!
While the thrash is definitely prominent in the writing, this album is also packed w/ riff writing that one might expect from the more edgy/techy deathcore or prog metal bands. “KARATE,” for example, has a transition to the second verse that for a moment made me think Veil of Maya had suddenly been featured. Other tracks incorporate EDM drops and Eastern writing/production either as transitions or layers between and overtop metal production. Unique doesn’t really cover the combinations. Some of it’s totally out of left field, but it’s awesome. I just finished my first cover-to-cover listen, and I feel like I just woke up from a week long bender, and everything is a blur, but I’m glad I survived, and I’ll probably do it again very soon … like now.
01. Road Of Resistance
03. Awadama Fever
06. Meta Taro
07. From Dusk Till Dawn
09. Sis. Anger
10. No Rain, No Rainbow
11. Takes Of The Destinies
12. THE ONE
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Check out the song “Karate” here.