Album Review: Metal Resistance by BabyMetal
Posted by RiffRaff
When BabyMetal popped up some years ago with that very Japanese video for Doki Doki Panic, I got a good kick out of the metal/Jpop hybrid dancing girl trio, watched it a few times, shared it on the Facebook, and then went back about my business of being a trve br00tl metalhead. I guess a lot of people liked that video as it caught on like wildfire and more crazy songs and videos ensued, even a full album. Thinking it was a pure gimmick with no heart like most ‘produced’ bands I passed on it. Not that I don’t have a soft spot for the occasional bit of Jpop, I do play a fuckton of Japanese RPGs (tips hat to the Persona composers) and I do love me some Maximum the Hormone, it just seemed like something that would be forgettable when the image was taken away.
Last month the new single/video for ‘Karate’ was released and of course I checked it out without hesitation expecting to dig it and then be on my merry way. What I didn’t expect was how much it would catch in my brain. Between that slick groove metal riff, infectious chorus, and chilling outro I kept saying to myself that the people writing the music for these girls really do have some damn fine chops. So, I decided to take the dive and check out the new record, Metal Resistance, to see how well it held up with the image removed and the music holding its own. And boy am I surprised at how much this record kept surprising me.
First off, if happiness, bubblegum, and pop in your metal immediately offends you, this record isn’t for you. Be on your merry way. If some sugar-coated metal sounds like something you can dig on, please follow me.
The first surprise was right in the opening track ‘Road of Resistance’ where hired guns Sam Totman and Herman Li of Dragonforce fame set a no holds barred, there’s actually solid metal on this album tone. There’s even harsh vocals coming from the backup singers. The Jpop vocals and melodies are a natural fit for the power metal aesthetic. What really went against my expectations was that I had thought that the vocals would be by far the focal point of the song, but the band (probably due to the ringers), got a good amount of spotlight too.
Next was the already catchier than yellow fever ‘Karate’ and hearing it in higher quality and sans video really shows how solid writing gets to stand on its own. That riff is tight as hell too. Great tune, but since I already knew that, not much surprise there. Expecting the album to go back resting on that easy power metal/Jpop laurel of the first track I was not expecting to ever say Atari Teenage Riot inspired which is what ‘Adawama Fever’ delivered. Odd rhythms and odd timed vocal hooks snapping between weird to 4/4 poppy music was delightful and fun. And speaking of fun the punk/kinda ska/edm/deathcore tune ‘YAVA!’ was barrel of monkeys.
While not as grabbing as the preceding tunes, ‘Amore’ could easily be the theme song for any popular 80s Saturday morning anime cartoon plus a touch of power metal and is a nice little break to something more traditional. Then into my favorite track off of Metal Resistance. ‘Meta Taro’, which I dub ‘Metal Totoro’, is basically a folk/viking metal version of ‘Tonari No Totoro’, the song that plays during the end credits of the Miyazaki classic (and one of my all time favorite films) My Neighbor Totoro. The marching rhythm, the folk instrumentation, choral chanting, the headbanging guitars, it’s just so whimsical, majestic, and magical, just like forest protector and his trusty Catbus. Any song that makes me picture Totoro in a Viking helmet sailing the seas in a Catbus Viking ship is an absolute win in my book. I’d recommend buying this album just for this single song if you happen to be a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli fan.
‘From Dusk to Dawn’ and ‘GJ!’are pretty catchy electronic (dubstep?) groove metal tracks that gets the job done and keep the heavy pace rolling. ‘Sis. Anger’ is another one of those surprising tracks. Of all the different subgenres of metal, death metal and black metal were the ones I didn’t imagine to hear on Metal Resistance. Sadly, no black metal, but ‘Sis. Anger’ doesn’t hold back from going full force with the ripping death metal riffing and blast beats. Having a trio a sweet girls singing saccharine vocals on top of the assault creates a really engaging dynamic and is another one of the big stand-outs on the album. Same for the could have been written by Symphony X or Dream Theater power prog spectacular ‘Tales of the Destinies’.
Unfortunately the other songs in the closing trio, ‘No Rain, No Rainbow’ and English sung ‘The One’ (oh yeah, did I mention, all the songs except this one are sung in Japanese), are rather cookie cutter power ballads. Not bad, but nothing to write home about though I do see their appeal. Just not my cup of tea.
So in closing, without their image, BabyMetal hold up incredibly well if in no small part of those surrounding the girls. The girls are at the forefront, and for good reason, but it’s the musicians and writers behind the scenes that really made this quite a magical album. As an album that is sure to be a ‘gateway’ record for many budding metalheads, it’s nice to hear that when the music goes hard it doesn’t hold back. It’s also nice to have some metal music that is pure positiveness and fun that isn’t a deluge of power metal (I like the genre, but in smaller doses). A gimmick it is, much like Ghost and Gwar. And like them, within the gimmick is some damn fine, lasting music to groove out to. Highly Recommended. 4.0 out of 5.0