Review Summary: Metal Resistance doesn't mark a new and improved era for Babymetal, but with repeated listens should satisfy fans.
Some love them and some hate them, but the fact is that Babymetal's blend of wacky genre shifting, crushing riffs, and a gimmick to rule all gimmicks has taken the world by storm. Many hate the very identity of the group on principle. It's not hard to see why a manufactured product with as many writers as a movie using teenage girls to sell music posing as metal goes against the very qualities that make metal so attractive to many. The masses ate it up, but credit has to go to how well executed the material was within its own quirky concept. Those who embraced it for its sheer fun and uniqueness found a lot to love with the group's debut album. Now with album two here the pressure is on to see if the project has staying power, or is a fad reaching its expiration date. Does Metal Resistance
deliver for Babymetal fans? Does the follow up album do anything to improve the views of those who see the group as little more than a marketing ploy?
Things get off to a great start. The opener, Road to Resistance
, is a joy to listen to with its frenetic melodicism and great hooks. However, it is made less impactful as an opener to Babymetal fans due to it essentially being a part of the first album, having been released over a year ago. Dragonforce members Herman Li and Sam Totman did much of the guitar playing on the track and give the song its own energy despite the guitar work and overall song structure sounding like what Dragonforce has done before. Lead single Karate
is likely the album's most accessible tune, using a formulaic pop structure within the Babymetal sound for addictive results. This first part of the album seems to want to show the band in a more mature light, using less electronics and oddities but keeping the fun. They pull it off in a promising opening to the album.
After the fairly stellar two opening tracks come Awadama Fever
, and this is where the album's issues start to show themselves. Both songs are high energy anthems with a fair dose of fun that become better with repeated listens. Awadama Fever
in particular has such outrageously loud synth parts it's hard not to either be amused or repulsed, a particular aspect of the band that makes them personally so enjoyable. Still, it is hard to shake the feeling that if these songs were on Babymetal's debut, they would be placed somewhere in the middle of the album, rather than in the premiere spots of tracks three and four.
Tracks six and seven: Meta Taro
and From Dusk Till Dawn
, are both essentially written as long build ups. Meta Taro
expertly uses its dreamy builds to keep the listener engaged and is sure to turn heads as the first folk metal influenced Babymetal song, making it one of the most memorable moments on the album. From Dusk Till Dawn
is a relatively more ambient track but feels unfinished. It sounds like an eight minute epic with an entire middle portion that was never written. This is a disappointment, as what is here is really great and these two tracks make this part of the album have a restrained elegance that hasn't been present before in Babymetal's material. As it is, this track feels like an interlude.
Tracks eight and nine try to ramp up the intensity again, but with these two we get very questionable vocals. Sis. Anger
in particular has some of the most brutal riffing in Babymetal, but I couldn't argue with anyone who says the vocals here are absolutely awful. They only become tolerable if they are imagined as being screamed throughout in a typical death metal voice, and the little girl's track that replaced those original screams is simply being used as a self aware parody.
Tales of the Destines
and The One
finish the album. The former is a full on progressive metal track that is fairly reminiscent of Dream Theater. This is one that should surprise many with just how far they took it. It's recommendable to all due to the extended depth and sheer novelty at display. The later is the band's first English track and ends the album in appropriately grand, if safe, fashion.
Unfortunately there are issues that make Metal Resistance
less fun than its predecessor. A lot of it can come down to pacing. Several songs in a row focus on the higher pitched vocals that sound highly processed. When Su-metal's more personable and natural sounding vocals finally come back you realize how much you missed them. Choruses on this album are often less catchy than the debut and the death metal vocals are less prominent. The beginning and end hint at a more consistent tone with success but the overall presentation comes off as an identity crisis for a group no longer quite sure what it should be. The overall tone is relatively less ridiculous but that actually works against the album. The debut was constantly genre shifting and silly, but successfully made that eccentricity its identity. It doesn't work as well here because large portions try to play it more straight, and the material isn't as immediately engaging.
There are a lot of good things going on in Metal Resistance
. The band touches on new genres in meaningful ways. Maturity peaks through which could be used as a main source for inspiration in the future. They remain a great band for a flamboyant, and skillful guitar performance. Some tracks come together fantastically and it is certainly above average for a casual listen. However, the album should simply placate fan's desires for more Babymetal music and give naysayers only the slightest reason to take a look, if only for novelties sake. Rather than blazing into a new era for Babymetal, they have simply provided an adequate follow-up with some great highlights. All that said, die hard fans are sure to have this offering grow on them with every listen.
Road of Resistance
From Dusk Till Dawn
Tales of The Destinies