Since the release of their debut album in 2014, Babymetal’s jarring fusion of Japanese idol pop and Western metal variations has continued to flabbergast growing audiences worldwide. Yet the confusing combination of sweet and sour genres has proved to far surpass the novelty value one might initially be tempted to assign to the teenage trio.
‘Metal Resistance’ released earlier this week, builds on the band’s previously established premise to deliver a varied dozen tracks that intelligently reference the best of their founding influences. ‘Road of Resistance’ - written in collaboration with British speed metal legends; DragonForce opens the album, setting a power anthem pace, before moving onto carefully curated re-interpretations of ska punk, thrash, technical metal and industrial metal fusions.
Idol denotations are no less diverse; playful J-Rap in 'GJ!', a triumphant mock-military march in 'Meta Taro' and 'The One' - written in English to further appeal to the cross-over markets (think Karaoke value!) hits the more familiar dreamy idol melodies. All spun with traditional kawaii empowerment lyrics, intermingled with Babymetal's unique 'metal' perspective.
What’s impressive is the success at which the band (with the help of their mastermind manager ‘Kobametal’) have breached national traditions to open a gateway for communities to converse. Conventionally isolated from mainstream audiences due to their extreme ideologies and aesthetic, the relentlessly cute innocence of Japanese idol and testosterone-fuelled fury of the metal markets are individually ‘not a cup of tea’ for many. The expected formula for both routes leads to a quick switch off for those who have already tasted the respective genre, and in an era of oversaturated, instantaneous media markets, we grow bored as quickly as it takes to swipe left.
The fusion of the extreme and seemingly misrelated fields, shows to be a promising area of interest - forcing audiences to reconsider previous expectations and judgments. Babymetal’s spearhead in this contrary movement is echoed across the creative spectrum; PC Music’s kawaii vs underground electronica (see our playlist here) or fashion designer Hussein Chalayan’s foray into contemporary dance performance prove that new light can be shed on old stories. Babymetal’s ability to bring together traditionally opposing crowds typifies the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration and open-minded thinking.
For more information on Babymetal and their global album tour see their website here.
Words: Benjamin Thapa