Review: Babymetal (both Babymetal and METAL RESISTANCE)

Let me start by saying that I really, really liked the first Bodycount album. What impressed me most about it was how each track was recognizably influenced by different styles of metal and punk music. That was lost on later albums, and I became less interested in the group.

Babymetal exploded onto the scene in 2014 with their self-titled debut album. It seems like it should be a joke – three girls singing “idol” vocals over metal instrumentals, but it works. The album likewise samples different styles of metal instrumentals while keeping the same vocal stylings, and succeeds magnificently for it. It looks like it should be a joke – but it’s done so skillfully and so well that it deserves a place in any metal fan’s library. For example, MEGITSUNE:

All – and I mean all of the tracks in the first album are that heavy and intense. The girl’s vocals are like a pure stream of brilliance riding atop a dirty tsunami of guitars and drums. 

So I was thrilled when I learned of the 2016 follow-up METAL RESISTANCE through the music video for “Karate”, which definitely carries on the same heritage:

I mean, that video rocks.

But. And there’s a big but here.

After buying “METAL RESISTANCE”, I learned that Babymetal had toured with Dragonforce. You might remember Dragonforce from Guitar Hero with “Through The Fire and Flames”:

That influence definitely shows in METAL RESISTANCE. In many – and I mean many of the tracks, the guitarist shows off in a similar kind of way more interested in the speed of notes than the slamming, head-crunching, face-melting that I was expecting from this album.

And then there’s also “The One”.

I think it’s probably best to let the video for this track speak for itself first:

Yeah, that’s right. It’s a power ballad. It’s not the only one, either – “No Rain, No Rainbow” is right up there with it.

It’s not that METAL RESISTANCE is a bad album at all. Babymetal is a tight and talented band. It doesn’t matter why they were originally brought into existence – they simply rock now.

But METAL RESISTANCE is a significant departure from the debut album. It’s nowhere near as heavy. I’d be willing to simply chalk that up to their trying to show even more styles and versatility, except for the strong Dragonforce-style guitar work throughout.

While I’d argue that Babymetal is a needed album in any metalhead’s library, METAL RESISTANCE seems targeted at a very specific audience… that doesn’t quite include me.

I’m still a fan, but I’m definitely hoping that Babymetal goes back to the truly metal roots that brought them fame in the first place.