Hit the sophomore slump
Company: Metal Blade
Reviewer: Greg Watson
When I heard that BabyMetal was releasing their newest album in 2016, I waited with baited breath, combing through the myriad metal sites for further information about the release, "Metal Resistance". With anticipation palpable enough to cut with a knife, I pressed play and hoped for something as magical as their debut contained. The first notes of "Road to Resistance" rang out and having already heard this song a while back, I halfway listened through it again. Featuring Herman Li and Sam Totman of DragonForce appearing uncredited, the song sounds just like a DragonForce track with Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal handling vocals. "Karate" is up next and was the first official single released from the album. I'm not going to get in to it too much as most everyone has already heard it by now. "Awadama Fever" is the next track and it seems to be overly saturated with EDM beats and verses that are punctuated by what sounds like baby gibberish at first and then becomes the name of the song after you listen carefully. The chaos of the EDM and the sugary sweet production and vocals make this one just a little too much to try and swallow.
"YAVA!" is up next and again is very heavy on the EDM beats, which isn't anything new for the band but it is becoming increasingly annoying. The song structure again is very similar to "Awadama Fever" with these sugary-sweet verses and choruses that are interspersed with some growls and occasionally chunky guitar riffs. "Amore" is up next and starts out with some really flashy guitar work that leads in to a very catchy verse/chorus formula with Su-metal handling the majority of the vocals on this track. The music on this track is a mix of JPop and some seriously incredible guitar work. "Meta Taro" follows and brings back the accursed EDM/synthesized beats with a really weird folky feel to some of the song. And the song itself sounds like a very bizarre amalgamation of a serious march and a kid's song. "From Dusk Till Dawn" is up next and guess what, more EDM!! However, there is a healthy dose of some really crunchy guitar riffage thrown in. The vocals on this one are taking on a bit of a trip hop style as the song progresses and turns into an out and out trip hop song before more of the crunchy guitar shatters the ambient mood for a few seconds before returning you to some bizarre euphoric land.
"GJ!" is hands down the best track on the album in my opinion with a very Pantera like riffing quality to the guitar work, like a variant combination of Pantera's "This Love" and Avenged Sevenfold's "Unholy Confessions". This track has what made the band so polarizing--phenomenal riffs, catchy melodies and vocals and that pop feel that makes you feel a little like your soul is dying slowly a little inside for enjoying it so much. "Sis. Anger" is up next and has a very speed/death metal riff kicking things off with speed vocals from Moa and Yui coming in. They handle the vocals on this track and it's just a different feel than when Su or the trio are singing. As the song nears its end, the band really amp up the heaviness and put some solid staccato drumming and chunky guitar riffs in to end it rather nicely. "No Rain, No Rainbow" is the first straight up ballad the band has done and it features Su-metal on vocals only and really lets her vocals shine. Her voice is angelic and haunting at times and is quite impressive for someone who is just over 18 years old. Her timbre and power are rather impressive as far as her voice goes overall. This track is definitely a favorite for me as well. "Tales of the Destinies" brings back that freaking EDM with more of the death growls showing up and it follows much the same formula as the previous tracks have. "The One" rounds the album out and marks the first track the band sings in English from start to finish. This is hands down my least favorite track on the album as it's clearly meant to pander to the pop audience here in the States and attempt to reel them in. Clocking in at 6 minutes and 30 seconds, the song is unnecessarily long. Staying around the 3 minute and 30 second mark would have made this one only slightly more tolerable than it is. As it stands, it is over 6 minutes of agony and prefabricated garbage that is being thrown out in an attempt to break in to the pop charts in the U.S.
All in all, this album is so very disappointing and really was just a giant let down for me. I championed the hell out of the first album and argued fiercely with people who said the band was a gimmick and that there was no real talent there. While I still would argue there is talent in the band, I am starting to shift sides in the whole gimmick argument. The problem that I have is that this album feels more gimmicky, aimed directly at an attempt to appeal to the Western hemisphere and is steered more towards that style of music. The first album had so much pizazz, so much variety that it kept you on your toes and anxiously awaiting what was next. "Metal Resistance" fell well short in that category and seems to have been aptly titled as well, given that there isn't a whole lot of actual metal present on this album. I've seen tons of reviews praising the album and calling people out for not embracing it and the band and saying that it's out of ignorance and foolishness that people aren't doing so. Hold the phone there people. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Just because you think the album is a great follow up doesn't mean that everyone else has to. That's what makes our world so great are all the different opinions out there and with heavy metal, that's even more the case. The one positive from BabyMetal's exposure is that hopefully Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal can garner enough interest from other avenues that will allow them to have the artistic freedom and liberties that most musicians enjoy. They and the backing musicians are all incredibly talented and even though someone else is putting everything together, without them there would be no BabyMetal.
In the end though, "Metal Resistance" was a very disappointing sophomore album that truly hit the sophomore slump in every way. Maybe it was because the debut album was written over five years where "Metal Resistance" was written in just over two years. Maybe the novelty has worn off. Or maybe it just wasn't that good of an album.