Review Summary: Shooting for the galaxy
I've never quite understood Babymetal
. The group's concept of J-pop crossed with metal is pretty amusing, and it's managed to win over quite a lot of people, including legends of metal like Rob Halford. Unfortunately, their 2014 self-titled debut and 2016's Metal Resistance
were trying so hard to be unique that it ended up causing them to be painfully boring. And then came Metal Galaxy
. This album was the "make or break" for this reviewer; either they'd manage to make their attempts to stand out interesting and finally win me over, or it would continue to try too hard and cause me to give up on them forever. The former ended up being the case; while Metal Galaxy
is certainly not groundbreaking, it shows Babymetal finally making the concepts the band were built upon work.
Openers "Future Metal" (which is more of an intro) and "Da Da Dance" show that the 3-year break between Metal Resistance
and Metal Galaxy
is certainly some time off the band needed; they've taken more of the Three Lights Down Kings
or New Breed
route this time around, using the J-pop influence as sonic undertones rather than bending over backwards to ensure that both the pop and metal sides of the band are equal. It's this approach that allows Babymetal to find their footing and truly shine; it plays more on their strengths and makes the weaknesses less apparent. That said, Metal Galaxy
is not without its stinkers: "Oh! MAJINAI" sees the band trying to do something more akin to what you'd find on a Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas
album, which is something that few bands can replicate successfully (Babymetal is not one of those bands), and "In The Name Of" is a directionless pseudo-ambient death metal piece that has no idea why it even exists, let alone any other purpose other than maybe an interlude (which is highly unlikely given its 4 and a half minute runtime). Fortunately, these low-points don't really detract from the album too much: "Distortion" provides some excellent industrial undertones and a shockingly top-notch guest performance from normally mediocre Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, "Kagerou" sounds like a kick-ass action anime opening, and "Arkadia" ends Metal Galaxy
with a DragonForce-esque power metal banger.
The lyrical content is standard Babymetal pop-meets-metal fare, but the production is sort of an oddball case with Metal Galaxy
; it sounds like radio rock production meets scenecore production. The bass is a little more audible than your standard scenecore band (it's most visible on the poppiest tracks), but it shares radio rock's infatuation with the guitar and vocals a bit too much
, compared to the rather straightforward radio rock-esque production on the last two Babymetal albums. Nevertheless, the pros of Metal Galaxy
vastly outweigh the cons, and it's safe to say that Babymetal has finally scored.