BABYMETAL. (Official album image)
BABYMETAL. (Official album image)

‘Kawaii’ metal goes viral

When most people think of typical Japanese pop music they think of cute outfits and sugary sweet pop songs. At first glance, BABYMETAL fits that description perfectly. Then you put on their debut, self-titled album and boy, are you in for a surprise. The group’s sound is unlike anything you’ve ever heard, in the best possible way.

Not only has BABYMETAL been gaining worldwide recognition through their music videos on YouTube but they have even been featured on the Internet clip show “RightThis Minute” on CNN’s sister network HLN. They are also the youngest group to grace the stage at the world famous Nippon Budokan arena in Tokyo.

BABYMETAL is made up of vocalists Su-metal, Moaetal, Yuimetal – real names Suzuka Nakamoto, Moa Kikuchi and Yui Mizuno respectively — and their supporting band Full Metal Band. The group started off a sub unit of the popular idol group Sakura Gakuin but quickly rose up as one of Japan’s best new artists.

The album is a mixture of varying genres including pop, rock, heavy metal, electronic dance music, industrial and symphonic death metal. On paper there is no way that these genres can work together and have it sound good. BABYMETAL mixes these genres to create a unique genre of their own, called “kawaii metal” or cute metal.

“Megitsune” (translation: female fox or vixen) is undoubtedly the best song on the album. It perfectly captures the aesthetic that is BABYMETAL, a killer mix of high-energy idol pop music and melodic power metal. Lyrically, it’s an analogy between the Japanese folklore that surround women in society today.

“The song relates women and foxes. People think that foxes deceive or disguise. People also think that women wear makeup to disguise themselves and people think ill of foxes as they disguise themselves,” said lead singer Su Metal in an interview on the Japanese TV show “Hot Wave.”

The vocals are another major focal point. It’s not everyday that you find a young vocalist like Su-metal with a strong vocal range. Her vocals combined with Moametal and Yuimetal’s idol vocal style and the growls and screams from the backing band make for an interesting listening experience.

The flow from track to track is seamless. Each song has its own unique sound, changing from genre to genre in an instant giving the listener a whole new experience with each passing song.

Highlights on the album include the cute hip-hop influenced “Ii ne!!,” the dark and heavy intro to the album “BABYMETAL DEATH,” the upbeat synth pop driven “Doki Doki Morning,” the high energy power pop influenced “Headbanger” and the melodic album closer “Ijime, Dame, Zettai.”

BABYMETAL’s self-titled debut is a testament of just how far you take music and experiment with it. Metal is versatile; it isn’t just brutal, hard in-your-face rhythms and melodic guitar riffs. It can be cute, fun and youthful too.

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‘Kawaii’ metal goes viral