Album Review: Babymetal Conquer the Metal Galaxy
It’s well-documented on this site that I love me some Babymetal, but even I’m surprised at their longevity. For a group still considered a gimmick band by many, they remain incredibly popular, and not just in their native Japan. They sold out a headlining show at the Los Angeles Forum on their current tour — a venue where Metallica and the Foo Fighters play. Even with the core vocal trio reduced to a duo after Yuimetal (aka Yui Mizuno)’s departure last year, the idol metal band doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Even more surprising than their staying power? The consistent quality of their records. Metal Galaxy, their third album, continues that upward trend, although with a few changes to the formula. Babymetal still mix J-pop with power metal riffage, groove metal crunch, and electronic elements. This time around, producer Kobametal (Key Kobayashi) and his army of songwriters bring in some unexpected international influences. While not quite galaxy-spanning, Babymetal go worldwide here.
“Shanti Shanti Shanti” adds infectious Indian instrumentation, thus conclusively proving Babymetal’s kinship to Bollywood. Sabaton’s Joakim Broden stops by to contribute his grunt to the Finntroll-ish “Oh! MAJINAI.” “Night Night Burn!” takes the duo to the Cuban dancefloor. Japanese guitar legend Tak Matsumoto lends his guitar wizardry to “DA DA DANCE.” Polyphia’s Tim Henson and Scott Page bring unexpected prog metal complexity to the R&B-styled “Brand New Day.” Alissa White-Gluz spits fire on “Distortion.” Thai rapper F.HERO drops his DMX-inspired flow on “PA PA YA!!” And every single one of those songs will lodge itself in your head for days. Don’t worry — Sumetal (Suzuka Nakamoto) and Moametal (Moa Kikuchi) still dazzle when they take center stage. Just check out the soaring “Shine” for proof.
Sure, Metal Galaxy is a J-pop album put together by a canny producer with a veritable army of contributors. The collective known as Babymetal never rests on its laurels, though. They keep things fun, catchy, and varied all the way through. The addition of guest stars and international sounds only enhances the experience and gives their patented “kawaii metal” fresh new life. Long live Babymetal and their intergalactic domination!