Thursday, 23 October 2014

Babymetal - Babymetal Review

Babymetal - Babymetal [J-Pop / Djent]

Japan has heard your cries for weirder bands and has answered promptly; Babymetal is a project that fuses djent instrumentation with J-Pop melodies. The girls in this 'band' do nothing but sing and execute synchronized dance steps like any other pop outlet.

The unique thing here, however, is that neither of the aforementioned genres are watered down. I've been seasoned to bands like Dir En Grey and Maximum The Hormone (which remains one of the most kick ass weird bands from Japan) and I have have to say that none of that has prepared me for anything from this album. Suffice to say, the album's outrageous, and in a good way. The contrasting styles actually work really well together, and producer Kobametal (it's okay if you don't want to reveal your real name bro) has been sensible enough to mix up various styles throughout the songs that keeps you guessing.

  1. Babymetal Death - kicks off with some decent riffs and double pedals, and ends with a tasty solo after introducing the three girls. 
  2. Megitsune - Fully flexes its J-Pop sensibilities, with synths taking over after a brief folk instrumentation. The chorus is especially catchy. The song takes a sudden black metal turn in the bridge, and it sounds so tightly written. 
  3. Gimme Chocolate!! - A personal favourite from the album, this song ventures further into djent territory with staccato vocals and heavy instrumentation. As with the second song, has a catchy chorus. It still has space for thrash metal solos at the end. 
  4. Iine! - Another weird as hell song, with a heavy disco backdrop that somehow accommodates death metal vocals and a sudden rap break (what?!). This song was obviously written as a single to completely shock audiences, which ins't that bad in Japanese context. As of onw I am still unsure what to feel for this song, but it's seriously not bad. 
  5. Akatsuki - one of the faster songs on the album, and less weird. This one borrows a bit from power metal, with soaring vocals and keyboards. I did not enjoy this song so much but it may appeal more to the power metal purists. It does have a glorious NWOBHM solo section in the middle, though. 
  6. Doki Doki ☆ Morning - A shameless djent song that actually is enjoyable. The Japanese have this quality to their guitar work that is quite hard to put a finger on- in that it's heavy but still sounds friendly. It could just be the production but it's something I have observed in their music and anime-soundtracks. 
  7. Onedari Daisakusen - A rap song. Not too big on rap songs, and this doesn't change my stance much. The cute vocals don't work well for rap, in my opinion. 
  8. Song 4 - Another great track with rhythmic verses. The guitar work is especially great here, and it fucks with your mind while alternating between easy-listening and death metal. It's an idea that would fail on paper but turns out to be quite kickass here. 
  9. Uki Uki ★ Midnight - A strange hybrid of metal and dubstep. Not that it's done before, but it hasn't been executed with such disorientation as it has here. It's a meh kinda song to me, but it does not let up the flow of the album. 
  10. Catch Me If You Can - A very strong song, a lot faster than most of the songs here. Great instrumentation, great incorporation of electronic and dubstep nuances, and somehow still allowing space for death vocals. I love the upbeat tempo (that ending...). 
  11. Akumu no Rondo - By far the strongest song on the album. It's tonally different, in that it's serious as opposed to all the cute antics elsewhere in the album. Su-Metal's voice is heavily auto-tuned here (well no, they are all heavily auto-tuned throughout the album). This is a production decision that baffles me, since the three are of them are more than competent live. f it were a decision to sound cold, perhaps? Either way, if you have no time for all the gimmickry, listen to this one song, 
  12. Head Bangya!! - Another melody-driven song. Not very heavy, but it has an especially sweet chorus. It's a good song. 
  13. Ijime Dame Zettai - The album closes with an above average song. If anything, this and 'Head Bangya!!' seem to be placed at the end to wash off whatever aftertaste 'Akumu no Rondo' left behind. It's a song that borrows heavily from power metal, which I already said I am not a fan of. It's tolerable enough with some more strong instrumentation. 
All in all, I enjoyed more than half of the album which is more than I can say for a lot of metal records this year. It's refreshing, and it deserves all the hype it's been receiving, be it on the charts or a chance to play with Lady Gaga. This is not going to appeal to those who prefer their grim metal, but hey, lighten up. On the downside, I did find the production to be very bland, almost hollow, after which I discovered the album has a dynamic range of DR5. It's not loud, it just feels like it could be made fuller. Or maybe that's my metal insecurities acting up.


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