ALBUM: Babymetal – Babymetal

Release Date: February 26th, 2014
Label: Toy’s Factory
Website: www.babymetal.jp
Facebook: www.facebook.com/babymetal.jp
Twitter: www.twitter.com/babymetal_japan

Rating:

A trio of Japanese school girls with a super heavy backing track and songs that incorporate more musical styles than you can shake a stick at? Yup, that’s Babymetal, and while they may be a fairly polarising topic in the metal music scene, they’ve managed to create a bizarrely catchy and well-produced self-titled album that will either leave you scratching your head or banging it furiously.

Now, listening through this album, it becomes harder to discern how much of a gimmick Babymetal is. The teenage trio have freely admitted that upon joining the band they had little or no knowledge of what metal music was or what it entailed. However, despite this fact, this record is packed with entertaining and genuinely heavy songs which, although somewhat surreal in places, are fun to listen to and challenge the norm. The unusual melding of down-tuned guitar riffs and the high pitched, nigh-nonsensical singing works oddly well.

While there’s an abundance of one word repetition and absurd noises, there are moments where Su-Metal‘s (real name Suzuka Nakamoto) lead vocals are pretty impressive. ‘Megitsune’ is the best example, and arguably the most traditionally metal track on the whole record, with a soaring, almost symphonic chorus that might change the mind of those opposed to the concept of Babymetal.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Babymetal‘s songs is the sheer variety of musical styles that have been incorporated. Whether it’s the frantic electro/dance elements of ‘Ii Ne’ with a rap-style breakdown to boot, the dubstep wubs of ‘Uki Uki ★ Midnight’, or the peculiar reggae jams of ‘Song 4’, there’s little something for almost everyone. For the most part, these combinations work together quite well, much like the premise of the band’s fusion of Japanese ‘Idol’ and metal music.

Although they’re uncredited, the most striking part of Babymetal is the band itself; the unnamed musicians who create the outstanding plethora of music that Su-metal, Moametal and Yuimetal perform to. The instrumentalism is inspired, frequently overshadowing the pop-idol vocals, with its creative and varied array of crushing riffs, sinister guttural growls and some blistering drum work that really helps to set the pace and add a fearsome presence.

This self-labelled ‘kawaii-metal’ group have garnered a huge cult following recently, and listening to this album it’s plain to see why. You’ll struggle to find an album that exudes such an aura of cheesy, quirky fun, overlaid with moments of brilliant metal musicianship. Don’t be put off by Babymetal‘s appearance; they have a lot more to offer and are worth a listen, even if you’re the most devout preserver of ‘true metal’.

Written by Ben Hammond