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Posted by Carlo Jose San Juan, MD on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    I talked about how much I admired the concept and theme of the band itself in my previous blog post, but how good is their music?  That's what it should be about, right?  So here, I review their debut album, the self-titled BABYMETAL.
    The titular trio are SuMetal, YuiMetal, and MoaMetal.  The first of which is the band's lead vocalist while the other two are the resident "screamers".
    The group, no doubt, is a genre-mixing monster.  It can become a bit jarring once you get to some of the abrupt breakdowns in some of the songs.  However, there's an undercurrent of absolute fun in them which should, in my opinion, soften even the harshest critic somewhat.  Indeed, this is what the entire album is about, the raw joy of youth and, in a certain light, the precipice to adulthood.  But that doesn't mean there aren't moments of bonafide genius in it too.
    That being said, I have no reservations in calling this a heavy metal album, genre-mixing notwithstanding.  That's in large part due to the astounding work of the musicians behind the titular trio of living anime pop-star heroines.  People may scoff at the overarching effort to make metal this mainstream but I applaud the success in producing something nearly all ages can enjoy.
    Still, this isn't an album everyone will like, and that's fine and perfectly understandable.  If you aren't a fan of heavy metal and/or J-Pop, then this probably won't appeal to your taste.  Nevertheless, to those who have a liking to such things, it's daring, inventive, and utterly delightful.
    As for the songs, the album is a collection of previously released singles and some new stuff as well.  Considering they've been at this for a couple of years or so, some songs do feel dated while others are noticeably fresh. Let's get down to the individual tracks, shall we?
  1. Babymetal Death
        This starts off with some ambient choir singing which breaks down to some very heavy chunks of thumping metal music.  The group basically introduces themselves here.  I later learned of a pun in the title (and in effect, lyrics of the song) since how Japanese pronounce "death" is somewhat similar to how they say "I am / We are".  I believe this song debuted in the encore of a concert rumored to be their last so there's some cleverness at play.  Instead of "Babymetal's death" they proclaimed that "We are Babymetal" in a way.  Great way to start things off but not much to say with the singing because there's hardly any of it.
  2. Megitsune
        Then comes the band's masterpiece.  Again, lots of brilliant riffs, shredding, and pounding drums and it incorporates a bit of Japanese folk music.  I presume this is the one most metalheads would enjoy.  SuMetal's vocals shines in this track even with the autotune.  There's a nice little pause in the heaviness that reintroduces YuiMetal and MoaMetal's charm to the song as the electronica stuff builds up and they bring a refreshing element of fun to the overall pretty-darn-artsy stuff.  It's the most perfect BABYMETAL track to date and says the most of what the band brings and how important each member is.  Absolutely brilliant and a magnificent team effort.
  3. Gimme Choco!!
        This is the one that made them the viral internet sensation that they are.  It's fast-paced metal with a pop-laced chorus.  It's pretty simple, cheerful, and maintains a good balance of involvement between the three BABYMETAL lead performers.  Not to be outdone, the guitar solo is pretty good too!  Like most of the tracks in this album, this is a joy to listen to and is ridiculously catchy.
  4. Iine!
        Here we go.  This is one of those that took a while for me to decide on whether or not I like it (in the end, I do enjoy it because it's so preposterous it makes me smile).  The majority of the track disposes of the metal side of their repertoire, focusing on electronic dance music instead.  Then, shockingly, it breaks down to a hip hop tune.  Then, if that wasn't enough, metal viciously returns in all its growling glory to utterly destroy that nonsense... before yielding to the need to dance to electronica again.  Pure WTF material!  You get the feeling that this was all in good fun, but it definitely dances on the edge of it being an entertaining mixture and it being horribly disjointed.
  5. Benitsuki -Akatsuki-
        Here we hear SuMetal perform solo for the first time in the album.  This is metal ballad that truly showcases her talent.  And yet, the music is still heavy, fast-paced, and impeccably performed.  A good listen and a nice peek into the artistic side of the songwriters and composers.
  6. Doki Doki ☆ Morning
        The one that started it all.  Yes, I do feel it sounds a bit dated in the sense that the composing feels like it is still riding on the "shock" factor of mixing J-Pop and Heavy Metal as the two genres stand clearly apart in the same song.  Nevertheless, I still enjoy it (BABYMETAL is all about fun and this track is no exception), but it's clearly an early effort and sounds the most "manufactured".
  7. Onedari Daisakusen
        Oh my goodness.  This sounds way too much like Limp Bizkit.  I liked LB back in its day but did such DNA deserve to be in this album?  Yes, because this song has the sense-numbing Kawaii powers of MoaMetal and YuiMetal going for it and this is their first act alone in the album without SuMetal.  Those two bring so much fun to any song.
  8. 4 No Uta
        This used to be my least favorite track.  It's another Rap-meets-Metal song and there wasn't anything outstanding about it.  But I learned later on that Moa and Yui actually wrote it and considering the "manufactured band" issue of BABYMETAL, this makes it stand out.  It turns out the lyrics are particularly playfully clever with a whole bunch of puns regarding a widespread Asian superstition about the number 4.  This ramps up the fun-factor a notch and it has a bunch of jarring breakdowns to a nice reggae beat (one even ending with a cartoon "spring" sound effect).  I now consider it the most fun track in the album.  Yon Yon!
  9. Uki Uki ☆ Midnight
        If BABYMETAL were to make a song for an anime opening credits sequence, this would be it.  It has all the parts an animation editor would love.  I would end up imagining "this is where the show title would be shown", "the characters would be running across the screen here", "the main character would be dramatically staring off into the distance on top of a hill here"... Lots of interactive back-and-forth with whoever does the growling for BABYMETAL.  I bet this one's a particular hit live.
  10. Catch Me If You Can
        Have I mentioned how much fun this album is?!  Again, a good balance between the three girls here and nothing gets you revved up for fun on this album more than this song.  It's very playful and yet still very heavy on the metal side.  That chorus is just wonderful and utterly cheerful.
  11. Akumu no Rondo
        Another solo effort for SuMetal.  She really shows off her badass side here.  It's a very dramatic song with lots of pounding metal to back Su up.  I also believe it showcases why the people behind BABYMETAL felt it was a good idea to front a metal band with a pop singer.
  12. Head Bangya!!
        After Megitsune, this would be my next favorite track.  The arrangement and composing is outstanding!  Lots of power in it.  And this track in particular has music that, without the three girls, would definitely neatly belong in any metal album.  But take nothing away from Su, Yui, and Moa.  SuMetal is in her most badass form here and, dang, she can scream!  Of course, Yui and Moa bring the fun as only they can.  My only gripe would be an unnecessary growl here and there but if there was any doubt that this was a metal album, this track would quash all that.
  13. Ijime Dame Zettai
        What would this album be without a long finale?  It's the longest track at 6:06 minutes.  It starts off with a nice piano intro and Su sings this haunting melody then the metal kicks in with pretty amazing riffs.  There's a relatively toned-down interlude with the piano where the three girls relay their anti-bullying message.  They definitely end the album in epic fashion.  A great way to top things off.

    Overall, this album is just a joy to listen to.  Again, it's not for everyone, but if you're even slightly inclined toward such music, this stuff is at the very least an interesting listen.  I, on the other hand, think it's amazing.

Tags: babymetal  rock  metal  music  pop  j-pop 
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About the Author

Carlo Jose Caz is a practicing licensed physician, professional voice actor/talent, writer, and cartoonist. He has been working on the Callous comic strip since 1996, winning several of The LaSallian's Silver Quill awards for his work. He has written several published short stories. He currently lives in the Philippines with his wife and two children.


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