Genuinely catchy pop-metal
Max Bowden
11:00 4th October 2019

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What’s the worst possible thing you could think of? Something so despicable that it must be endlessly, endlessly complained about? The answer, according to a scary amount of people in the online metal community, is Babymetal. 

They’re the Japanese, teen-fronted, self-categorised ‘Kawaii-Metal’ band that, to people who take themselves and the metal genre far too seriously, are a huge problem. Their eponymous debut album and international breakthrough in 2014 was fun, unique and more often than not genuinely catchy, with tons of excellent musicianship to boot. Now, after a three and a half year gap since their last outing, Metal Resistance, the apparently ‘controversial’ outfit are back, with Metal Galaxy

According to lead vocalist Su-metal, the general idea behind Metal Galaxy is to: “incorporate the sound of different countries in which the band has toured since the release of Metal Resistance,” a perfectly inspired reason for new material, that fits the group’s wholesome image. Now, it’s not often that music makes me stop and question out loud “what the fuck is going on?” But then again, it’s not often you hear an irresistibly anthemic, Bollywood-inspired metal track with Japanese vocals, is it? 

Metal Galaxy has plenty of these amusingly bewildering moments, from the previously referenced ‘Shanti Shanti Shanti’, to the jolly Scandinavian folk-metal inspired ‘Oh! MAJINAI’ (featuring none other than Sabaton’s Joakim Broden, of course) to the ever so glitzy “future-bass-banger-with-distorted-guitars” ‘Brand New Day’. 

The album is also spliced with more serious moments, such as on ‘Starlight’, with its combination of layered choral passages alongside ‘Protest The Hero’-esque prog-metal riffs, and also with the epic soaring choruses and beautiful symphonic melodies on ‘Shine’ and ‘Arkadia’. Riffs on ‘Night Night Burn!’ and ‘Distortion’ are seriously heavy, and the overall musicianship of the backing Kami Band is, as usual, incredibly high. 

Five years on from their viral debut, Babymetal are still a great mix of innocent fun and genuinely catchy pop-metal, a combination which can surely serve as a perfect gateway-drug for introducing new audiences into the wider realms of heavy music. Sure, it’s extremely well-produced and polished, to a point of occasional sickly sweetness, and the sometimes squeaky vocals and cheesy, inoffensive themes might not be to everyone's taste, but Metal Galaxy had me bopping along with a beaming smile throughout its whole 57 minute runtime, which is more than I can say for most metal releases this year. 

Metal Galaxy is released on 11 October 2019 via earMUSIC.

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