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BABYMETAL ‘grows up’ on unique sophomore album, ‘Metal Resistance’

Connor Dziawura, Behind the Scenes Editor, Puma Press

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When BABYMETAL first gained worldwide recognition from the viral videos for songs such as ‘Gimme Chocolate!!’ and ‘Iine!,’ American audiences did not know what to make of them. Delivering a fascinating blend of J-Pop and metal, their music was as jarring as it was catchy. Who ever thought I would have a song called ‘Gimme Chocolate!!’ stuck in my head?

The band is fronted by three Japanese teen girls — Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal — and backed by a band of experienced Japanese metal musicians in ghoulish face paint. The juxtaposition between the Japanese Idol element and the metal backdrops is just crazy enough to work, and while it has alienated many a metal fan, many others have warmly embraced it.

So when BABYMETAL returned with its sophomore studio album “Metal Resistance” earlier this month and promoted it with a performance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” many people who had not initially heard of BABYMETAL were not prepared for what they were introduced to. “I’m not sure what I’m about to see, but I’m pretty excited about it,” said Colbert, in what is the most fitting introduction for a band of this nature.

On “Metal Resistance,” BABYMETAL makes a slight departure from its debut album, returning with a more mature record (if you can call it that). Whereas their debut was essentially metal-tinged J-Pop, “Metal Resistance” is the opposite: a metal record with some elements of J-Pop thrown in. Parting ways with many of the electronic elements found on their debut, this record feels more like a metal album, but with three female vocalists from Japan. Don’t get me wrong­ — this is still a pop record at heart; however, this album does feel like a natural progression in the band’s career.

The album strangely begins with ‘Road to Resistance,’ the DragonForce-featuring power-metal track that closed out their debut. This is a strong track and a fitting introduction to the album. However, they follow this up with ‘KARATE,’ which is driven by a nu-metal-inspired riff and features unusual and cutesy backup vocals before it explodes into a massive chorus. ‘Awadama Fever’ continues the nu-metal influence, opening with a rapid synth pattern and a driving breakbeat. This “Amen break”-featuring song includes another gigantic chorus along with some unique vocals and interesting electronic elements in the production. The closing track, ‘The One,’ is probably the most interesting here for the fact that it’s a six-and-a-half minute power-ballad sung in English. Easily the band’s most mature and fleshed out song to date, ‘The One’ features melodic guitars and fluttering pianos along with a powerful hook and strong background vocals. One of their strongest vocal performances to date, this track is the most removed song from what one would expect BABYMETAL to sound like.

With “Metal Resistance,” BABYMETAL returns with a strong follow-up to its debut. With influences in power-metal, nu-metal and metalcore found all over this album, just to name a few, BABYMETAL delivered what is a catchy, varied and extremely fun album. Whether or not you enjoy the music of BABYMETAL, prepare for their incoming takeover, as this is the first Japanese album in 53 years to crack the Top 40 on the Billboard 200. Despite the unusual-sounding pairing of genres and cultures, “Metal Resistance” is 2016’s most fun album yet.

Photo by Fuguito licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

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BABYMETAL ‘grows up’ on unique sophomore album, ‘Metal Resistance’