REVIEW: Babymetal – Metal Resistance (2016)

Edward returns to the land of Japanese metal (farrrr out) and takes on Reddit trolls in the process. 

After the reaction to my review of Babymetal’s debut album – a reaction which involved hateful comments and an entire Reddit page about how I’m “obviously” not a metal fan – there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to checkout album number two.

My assessment of the previous platter boiled down to there being a few good songs, but overall, it was a bit hit-and-miss, partly due to the songs having been recorded over a three-year period with a multitude of different writers. Despite some of the Reddit comments arguing I should have taken this into account, I say why? If I listen to an album, I listen to the music. That the artist may have created the album in specific circumstances won’t change my opinion.

It was in the summer of 2015 when I first heard “Road to Resistance,” and I must admit to not being very blown away. It was alright, but nothing in it specifically stood-out. Yet, when “Karate” was released at the start of the year, it was a marked improvement, which caused me to consider whether there was going to be real substance to the band, and if they could prove they weren’t a mere novelty.

My opinion of “Road to Resistance,” the first song on the album and co-written with Dragonforce’s guitarists, remains the same. I remain unimpressed by the over-fiddly guitar solos. The vocals are perfectly bubblegum, however, and definitely help save an otherwise bland introduction.

We then reach the aforementioned “Karate,” which has a ridiculously catchy chorus, with even the doomier verses working as a perfectly fine counterpoint to the poppier sections. The following “Awadama Fever” keeps up the quality as a perfectly serviceable pop/dance song.

“Kava!” is a nice surprise, with its initial ska influences bringing a sense of fun as well as diversifying Babymetal’s sound somewhat, while “AMORE’S” more traditional power-metal seems a tad bland as a follow-up, although there’s no arguing the fine musicianship shown by the Kami band.. “Meta Taro” is the same, and despite some hints towards folk-metal, this marching song just doesn’t go anywhere.

“From Dusk to Dawn,” a metalcore song at its heart, is a stunning semi-ballad and without a doubt the biggest curveball of them all, even featuring some English lyrics. My only whinge is that they overdo the electro-breakdowns, taking away from the track’s impact somewhat.

The song that would be the least out-of-place on their first album is “GJ,” a nu-metal pop song, with Yui and Moa’s vocal contributions more apparent here.

“Sis. Anger” contains a rather pointless spoken-word intro before morphing into a straightforward metal song. This is what doom would sound like sped-up.

“No Rain, No Rainbow” showcases Sumetal’s beautiful voice whilst paying homage to Queen. A piano section you can imagine Freddie singing to and a guitar section that’s almost note-for-note Brian May. The one problem is that, while it’s enjoyable, it’s also a little bit too formulaic.

“Tale of the Destinies” is the one song where the metal and pop sections seem to be at odds. A shame, but I’m still impressed that it took eleven songs for that problem to occur. The piano section in the middle should have been cut, however, serving no point but to detract from the rest of the song.

“The One (English Version)” is, as might be expected, an English language version of “The One,” which appears in their native tongue on the Japanese edition of the album. The “thrill” or whatever it is of hearing them sing in English is kinda ruined by it being rather boring. It is by and far and away the least metal song on the album, despite containing some almost Dream Theatre-esque swellings, though it’ll no doubt become a sing-a-long anthem live. As a studio song, however, it just doesn’t hit the spot.

Those already aware of Babymetal will surely know the structure of the band’s style from the previous album, and again, it remains mostly the same, with Sumetal providing the majority of the lead vocals whilst Yui and Moametal are mostly background, with the occasional chance to prove their own chops.

There’s a real maturity in both the songwriting and the group’s own singing abilities compared to the first album, with the release as a whole coalescing and working together. Despite continuing to have a wide range of influences, be it Doom or EDM, there are some stand-out moments here alongside experimentations that don’t quite work, yet the metal and pop motifs actually compliment each other rather than competing.

Metal Resistance is a fun album and is definitely a marked improvement on the also-fun Babymetal, with the band finding their voice. No matter how good their albums are, it won’t change the mind of detractors who see them as a novelty band, and in the eyes of the fans, it just won’t be as good as seeing Babymetal in their natural habitat at a live show.



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