in 2018, there must've been a twinge of anxiety in the band's management about how the change of line-up would go over with fans. Though she and MOAMETAL
their original roles as SU-METAL
's pintsized sidekicks years ago, the tale of how a trio of teenage girls won over legions of gruff metalheads is practically part of heavy metal folklore. However, judging by how their latest album
has fared at home and abroad, any anxiety may have been unwarranted.
The opening instrumental FUTURE METAL is more EDM than heavy metal. This carries over into the first song proper, which is a distinct change of scenery for guest guitarist Tak Matsumoto, one half of rock duo B’z,
the only act in Japan still outselling AKB48. DA DA DANCE ticks all the boxes you’d expect from a BABYMETAL opening number: relentless tempo, crystal-clear production and lyrics as disposable as they are
Matsumoto is but one of many guests featured on METAL GALAXY, a practice which is still largely unexplored territory for BABYMETAL. Despite the duo’s status and the calibre of acts they’ve toured with, the
only high-profile collaboration committed to tape had been Road of Resistance with DragonForce guitarists Sam Totman and Herman Li.
Another guest we find out of his element is Swedish metal man Joakim Brodén. Far removed from the military history-inspired power metal he usually plays, the Swede joins the duo on
Oh! MAJINAI, a borderline parody of folk metal that may end up generating more interest in Alestorm than Brodén's s own band Sabaton. Still, it’s all in good fun and the sea-shanty chorus
is catchy as anything.
frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz
’s cameo on Distortion
is more in-character, with the Canadian growling along with the duo’s autotuned vocals between synth-laced choruses. The same goes for Brand New Day
where the dexterous melodic guitar work of Polyphia
guitarist duo Tim Henson
and Scott Lepage
provides a solid foundation for some breezy electropop.
You might think it’d be tough for a band who first caught the wider world’s attention with a death metal-infused plea for chocolate to outdo themselves in terms of randomness. However, the appearance by Thai rapper F.HERO
a metalcore ode to a tropical fruit feels like a good effort.
Hip-hop isn’t the only non-metal genre to get the BABYMETAL
treatment on METAL GALAXY
. On Shanti Shanti Shanti
, they break out the sitars and Sanskrit on a track that’s a Hindi verse or two away from being fit
for a Bollywood dance number. Perhaps mindful of neglecting the Americas, the production team lay the clichés on thick in Night Night Burn!
, which could hardly be more generically Latin.
After just over half an hour of hijinks, the album takes an unexpected turn. The songs from Kagerou
onwards serve as a reminder that BABYMETAL
could drop the novelty pop hooks, leather-and-lace getups and other idol
shtick tomorrow and still be a perfectly credible ‘pop-metal’ band. The climatic Arkadia
deserves the attention of any power metal fan.
So there you have it. Assuming these women and producer KOBAMETAL
's band of (mostly) faceless minions have a few more albums like this in them, we can postpone any chatter about SU-METAL
's inevitable solo career
indefinitely. She and MOAMETAL
could yet establish themselves as the Batman and Robin — or, if you prefer, the Batwoman and Flamebird — of the idol scene.