(Toy’s Factory, 2014)
Review by: Wes Dodson
Once upon a time, there was a Japanese heavy metal band called Loudness. One might recall the guitar player looking a lot like a little Japanese Eddie Van Halen. Not exactly celebrated in the U.S., Loudness signed to a major label; had a short run at the 80’s metal market, and then fizzled the hell on out of Dodge.
When even the most unworthy of American talent proves a commercial failure at home, they are almost certain to be worshipped in Japan. However, the same can hardly be said for the opposite. You are rather hard pressed to recall any Japanese rock outfit worthy of mention since the days of Loudness.
Albeit, public opinion is fast forming for the infant, J-pop/ metal fusion act, Babymetal.
Since its February 26th release, BabyMetal’s self-titled debut album has cracked the iTunes Top 10 metal charts in seven countries. Like ‘em or not, they’re doing a quite a job making the world take notice!
There are some realities to keep in mind while listening to BabyMetal for the first (or last) time. They ARE an artificial production. Whether you find validity (or cuteness) in the three pop-idol teens, Suzuka Nakamoto, Moa Kikuchi, and Yui Mizuno are without doubt three very highly skilled performers. Unfortunately, these girls had not so much a clue as to what heavy metal was prior to the formation of BabyMetal. A producer is credited with weaving together their music, choreography, and stage show. This is certain to not sit well with the age old custom of respect with many connoisseurs.
Another aspect is the music itself; forging metal, J-pop, techno and even rap together in one near flawless package. The progressive, Euro-speed metal core of BabyMetal is easily on par with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Though my ears detect an undeniable Pro-Tools production, the backing band is without argument one bad ass, tight-knit unit.
Lastly, the majority of material comprising this 13-track debut isn’t exactly new to anyone who has followed the band previously. Since their inception in 2010, BabyMetal have five previous Japanese-only releases to their credit:
Doki Doki (2011)
Babymetal X Kiba of Akiba (2012)
Ijime, Dame, Zettai (2013)
BabyMetal appears to harvest the best from each of their previous singles and E.P.’s, while throwing in a couple of new tracks for posterity. As a result, a trained ear might notice variations in production values from one track to the next. It is my guess that the record was a quick fix for the call of a full length commercial release, while accommodating fans not fortunate enough to reasonably acquire the import catalog. Additionally, there are also a number of official, Japan-only DVD’s out there to be had.
All said, BabyMetal is not just a well-oiled pop-metal machine. They are also great visual entertainment. Unfortunately, I question their longevity and negative impact on future careers that success heaves upon child actors and young musical prodigies. I also have statistical reservation as to how much acclaim they’ll garnish here in the States. But, I’m willing to bet you this here shiny buffalo nickel that they are on the verge of becoming huge overseas! If you haven’t already given them a listen, you’d best go ahead and get it over with… I have a feeling that it won’t be very long before they are again in your face!
Visit BabyMetal online @
BabyMetal (Official Japanese website):
For even more on the new millennium uprising of Japanese arts & entertainment, the following films are certain to shock and awe you!
TOKYO GORE POLICE (2008)
VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL (2009)
ZOMBIE ASS: TOILET OF THE DEAD (2012)
BabyMetal with Slayer!
BECAUSE THE MUSIC MATTERS!!!