Review Summary: An unexpectedly catchy effort with varying influences scattered across its spectrum
Babymetal is, for lack of a better word, infamous these days. However the increased notoriety is due to the interesting decision to amalgamate metal into the mix; this has resulted in Babymetal being given macabre titles as “the death of music” or “the start of the commercialization of metal” (because all of those Iron Maiden t-shirts you bought were zero dollars right? Yeah, no.) All in all, your enjoyment of this band will be determined by your willingness to ignore why they exist and to focus on what actually exists in the first place. Babymetal’s self titled album is a catchy blend of j-pop and metal with plenty of memorable choruses, engaging riffs and surprisingly well fitted electronics to keep most listeners entertained.
Babymetal has three vocalists, the main singer “Su-Metal” and the two backing vocalists “Yuimetal” and “Moametal.” Su’s voice is well produced, addictive and has quite a bit of range to it; In particular her higher range as utilized in moments like the chorus of “Megitsune” is far more appealing than her mid or lower ranges. Yui and Moa don’t contribute that much to the overall sound other than to provide occasional gang vocals and to contribute to the fast spoken portions that are permeated throughout the record such as in the pre-chorus of “Give Me Chocolate.” There are occasional backing harsh vocals from some of the faceless male members in the band, but they’re overproduced and mixed so low that for the most part, they won’t matter and won’t make any impact in a positive or negative way on the overall song. The lyricism is typical silly jargon often found in J-pop, ranging from chocolate to getting ready in the morning; in all honesty it shouldn’t bother you since a majority of the people who have actually listened to Babymetal can’t speak Japanese.
The instrumentals are standard metal, catchy riffs, the occasional breakdown (thankfully not overused), some nice drum fills and in general everything is a tight cohesive package. Occasionally there are bouncy synth arrangements and even some instrumental inclusions that pay homage to their country of origin. For the most part bar a few technically impressive sections in songs (and a horridly misplaced and executed hip-hop verse), most of the instrumental performances never stray beyond the “catchy and fun” aspect; this isn’t much of a problem given the intent of the music in the first place.
Babymetal’s popularity is most likely something that’ll end up being short lived like most viral internet sensations (when’s the last time you talked about Psy, Hot Problems or Rebecca Black?), but regardless of this, they took a bold step by combining two genres that are naturally opposed to each other and went with it, creating a catchy, accessible and entertaining album.