October 11, 2019 Babymetal – Metal Galaxy (Album Review)
After the 2013 release of a music video for “Gimme Chocolate” went viral, much of the world was introduced to the other side of Japanese Metal. With a seemingly odd combination of Idol Pop energy and vocals, and powering Heavy Metal instrumentals, Babymetal is a bit of an odd sight for some.
The group is fronted by Su-metal and Moametal, two young women with cheerful faces, dressed in black leather and crimson ruffles, J-Pop voices, and undeniable charm. Their onstage performances are as brilliant as their songs and as giant as their personalities. Now the Kawaii Metal band are continuing their tale with the release of their newest album, Metal Galaxy, which arrives on Friday, October 11th via Cooking Vinyl.
Nearly an hour of music, “Future Metal” provides the grand introduction to Metal Galaxy with a staccato, distorted guitar riffs and cybernetic synth work in the background. Drums conjoin with synth effects for a rapid gunfire sound as Su-metal and Moametal join in a bright chorus of vocals over the top before the track fades out. In the secondary track, “Da Da Dance,” featuring award winning Guitarist Tak Matsumoto, the guitars rip and tear away at lightning speed before blazing vocals join the scene. The chorus is catchy with harmonization of the title, alternating between choppy, robotic vocals, making the song an explosive, uplifting time warp complete with a shredding guitar solo and soaring vocals.
Moving on, the album’s debut single “Elevator Girl” is comprised of thundering bursts of chords over the top of intricate melodic work and bouncing vocals. The song exists in both a Japanese and English version with the chorus in the Japanese version switching between both languages but still maintaining the memorable tagline of “Hey lady, are you going up da da da da da down?”
Continuing with their multi-cultural influences, “Shanti Shanti Shanti” plays with Arabic scales on guitar and an overall Middle Eastern tone in its use of traditional Arabic stringed instruments and percussion beats. Here, the vocals match the speeding tempo for the entirety of the track, and everything ultimately melds and flows with a beauty only Babymetal brings to the table. Meanwhile, “Brand New Day,” featuring Tim Henson and Scott LePage, is a slower-paced track with epic chord progressions full of intense synth distortion overlays, and a fierce vocal performance by Su-metal. Lyrically, this a positive reminder that every day is a new chance and a bright start, a message that is just as uplifting as the almost synchronous over all performance.
Ending disc 1, “Night Night Burn!” picks right back up with up-tempo pacing, eclectic rhythmic work, and dynamic guitars. Elements of spicy Latin music pop up everywhere, ranging from the percussive style that occurs after the breakdown to the bright tone of the song. Then on disc 2, “BMxC” is right in the face of the listener with a bold combination of synth and rhythmic guitar. Robotic with its timing and execution, the entire piece comes out on the other side with a sound that borders on Speed Metal meets J Rap. Alternately, “Kagerou” enters the scene with a grungy Hard Rock riff that bubbles throughout with a strong contrast to the gorgeous vocal style, a perfect theme song to an Anime with a perky brightness.
Overall, on Metal Galaxy the exploration of diverse cultural musical styles takes hold in quite a few tracks with these easily-recognized, predominant traits melding together with Babymetal’s usual composition. In this, the instrumental is exquisite in bringing a true Metal sound to balance out the duo’s J-Pop vocals. All the while, the guitar work is awakening with searing solos and iconic riffs sure to catch the listener’s ear. Vocally speaking, Su-metal takes a hold of each song with no hesitance and slays each performance, and alongside her Moametal brings a softer effect to the singing.
So, while Babymetal might result in a bit of a shock to seasoned metalheads, they bring a unique approach to the genre and continue to spin their own sound album after album. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Metal Galaxy 4.5 of 5 stars.