The most intense album to ever grace your ears? The next stage of evolution in the ever-changing world of heavy metal? The most anticipated release of 2016? Here’s the second album from Japanese sensation Babymetal: Metal Resistance.
Okay, okay… all joking aside, you can’t exactly talk about Babymetal in the same context of bands like Bathory, Death, or Motörhead. On the off chance you managed to avoid the buzz last year, here’s the short explanation: Babymetal is a hybrid of Japanese idol music (choreographed bubblegum pop performed by one or more young pretty girls) and various styles of metal ranging from power to grindcore. Some think it’s awesome, some think it’s an amusing joke, and others think it’s a sign of the impending apocalypse.
Personally, I didn’t think Babymetal was bad. Sure, it wasn’t going to make my Album of the Year or anything, but it had some decent bits, and reminded me a lot of the heavier anime soundtracks. It had some weird jumps between the metal and J-pop parts, but it was fine for what it was.
This brings us to 2016’s Metal Resistance. Opener Road of Resistance could have been a DragonForce song the way it’s structured. When the vocals kick in, we’re seeing a definite spin away from the sickeningly cute vocals from the debut. While they’re still singing in the "idol" range, it’s more pop star and less Disney. If this is the new direction of Babymetal, I could become a convert.
The enthusiasm is short-lived, however. KARATE begins with a borderline annoying cheerleader intro before transitioning into some standard clean singing. The synth and autotuning get a bit heavy on this track, too, which make it considerably more poppy than the opener. The bubblegum pop trend continues (quite literally) into the industrial-laced Adawama Fever whose lyrics center around chewing gum as far as I can tell.
After more of the same from YAVA!, I’m relieved when Amore returns to the power metal feel of the opener. From there on, the album bounces between the sugary electro-pop (GJ!; Sis. Anger) and the more "metal" songs (No Rain, No Rainbow; Tales of the Destinies) to varying degrees of success.
Although they’re the secondary focus, the musicians are pretty talented. They can wail fast during the power metal segments and juggle the other styles behind the poppier songs pretty well. Again, this isn’t going to win any awards, but it all sounds solid for what it’s doing.
Admittedly, I timed this review for release on April Fools’ Day as a lark, but you know what? I actually enjoyed parts of Metal Resistance. The schizophrenic songwriting is going to put more than a few folks off, but the power metal songs are strong. Granted, I still prefer the darker stylings of Yōsei Teikoku when I’m in the mood for this style, but if you found any enjoyment with Babymetal’s first album, you should be happy with Metal Resistance.