Backing Vocals: Yuimetal
Backing Vocals: Moametal
1. Babymetal Death
3. Gimme Chocolate
6. Doki Doki Morning
7. Onedari Daisakusen
8. Song 4
9. Uki Uki Midnight
10. Catch Me If You Can
11. Rondo of Nightmare
12. Head Bangeeeeerrrrr
13. Ijime Dame Zettai
14. Road of Resistance
15. Gimme Chocolate [Live at O2 Academy Brixton London]
In a world saturated with music that caters for all tastes attributed to the discerning individual, it comes with a degree of surprise that music that dominates the mainstream has become so transparent that you can almost see the corporations behind the flavour-of-the-month pulling the strings. However, now and again, a group or an album that defies just about all realms of explanation forces it’s way into general conciousness.
The collective groan when Babymetal were first unveiled, was deafening. Few were ready to embrace an unholy experiment combining Japanese pop-idol music (as were the roots of the front three) with death metal, dismissing the band as a gimmick. Then the album was released and people began to hear the group live. A feeling of unrelenting vitality forged from an unyielding enthusiasm, has swept like a viral (both meanings of the word) contagion and has left many both refreshed and exhausted, like a battering of the senses similar to hearing the record for the first time.
What would be witnessed by many as nothing short of a phenomenon would come as less of a shock to a Japenese audience, who have adopted this tendency towards a hybrid of styles almost down to a formulaic fine art. With bands such as X-Japan surviving from recent memory, Babymetal seems to have descended from hybrid forms of Japanese metal such as Visual Kei, which is a kind of Japanese glam metal that also contains a dimension of horror.
With that in mind are Babymetal are novelty act to be swept aside when asked to reproduce their form? Or is this a furious statement of intent to subvert refined conventions and change the landscape for years to come?
In front of your eyes, everything that you have long since despised about pop music has enhanced and amplified to the point where it is so in your face, you can’t be angry for being misled in any single way. Fronted by three singers taking the spotlight; Su, Yui and Moa, the group unashamedly wear cutesy, hyperactive bubblegum on their sleeve. The real talent, I feel, comes from managing to keep the spotlight focused on them, despite any manner of madness cascading around them.
Despite the backing band most likely dissolving in to dimly-lit obscurity during their live performances, they actually achieve a fantastic amount towards giving the project a longer lasting relevance. There are many instances scattered throughout the record where the irritation becomes overbearing and they show great intelligence to bring the ship back on course towards being a metal act that wants itself to be taken seriously. The guitars and drum work are actually incredibly varied throughout the record and they show great awareness and guile to be able to slip some impressive chugging riffs and deathcore gallops amid all the sunshine and rainbows.
Regardless of any preconceptions, most people who hear the record will be surprised by 90 per cent of what they hear on it. As well as the obvious metal-laden backing, there is also some seamless transition into bass-heavy hip-hop, dub-step and what I could only describe as reggae moments on there too. What is perhaps most impressive, and most worrying, is how this multifaceted schizophrenia seems to indulge a degree of modernity that is reflective of a hybrid culture that neither embraces or excludes anybody.
In places, the record is crushingly heavier than anyone would have expected at first glance, which demonstrates the extent by which they have refined their sound in the years proceeding the release, and they deserve some respect for this. But while they may have transcended their gimmick label, this won’t be a record that many would openly admit to enjoying with a straight face.