Heh. I don't know what to say. I never thought I'd enjoy manufactured music so much. For those who don't know, Babymetal is a Japanese pop and metal mashup, the group itself mainly focused on three Japanese teen girls as some dudes in white robes and face paint do all the head banging talent in the background. An interesting mashup but one that seems to work very well.
Going past the airy choral synths of the intro of the first track (which is like an intro in itself), the album makes very clear it is here to stay. First we get the heavy binary strumming as the track itself basks itself in its own victory build-up. And then there is the drop. A face-melting guitar riff combined with a mature and classy electronic production style (almost like Nine Inch Nails) makes the first impressions of this album exceptionally good. Then the rest of the track pounds away heavily, serving the listener a real thrash metal introduction.
It isn't until the second track we get to hear the voices of the girls actually do some singing, really bringing the Japanese pop element into the mix for good. It's an odd combination, especially when the vast majority of the lyrics are in what I'm assuming to be Japanese. But it's a mix done with sensibility, relying on proved techniques of the two genres and bringing them together in a way that complements each other. The result is actually something that sounds heavier than Rammstein despite having a more pop focused influence. The girls can sing, that cannot be doubted, even if I have no idea what they're on about.
As the album tears on and you get through tracks such as 'Gimmie Choko!!' and 'Midnight', it is very clear that whoever was in charge of this album was having a lot of creative fun, playing around with many genres and styles and just throwing them into the can. Unlike early Limp Bizkit however, it isn't a chaotic mix. It's a clean and clever mix, demonstrating both subtly and sledge-hammery as it clever mixes metal with an ever growing rich history of musical styles. 'Line!' even includes some rap elements, which sound kinda token and almost mocking of stereotypes as the girls repeat the word 'yo!' over an entire verse, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt here and say it was done with good intensions rather than a poke of fun. One minute you'll be head banging, next you'll be bopping to some reggae or a poppy chorus or even dubstep, which has quite a prominent appearance in one of the tracks. The album has enough flavour to keep you listening, probably quite amazed that such a work of art even exists.
Now it isn't all good obviously. The lyrics are practically none-existent as far as I'm concerned. I don't know Japanese and whereas I understand some of the themes as English phrases and words are slipped in occasionally, it's mostly nonsense to me. And on top of that, after a while the girl's voices get irritating. Some parts have too much singing for my liking, which may be a fact attributed to that I have no idea what the fuck they're on about, but it's still a thing.
Quite often there can simply too much going on in a song. I understand the producers were probably having a wail of a time creating Babymetal, but maybe they were a little too enthusiastic at times to push things in. After a while your ears feel like they're drowning in noise, there is no room to breathe through the endless amounts of sonic guitars and poppy synths and girly vocals. More breaks and quieter moments would have been appreciated.
One of the most important things to note is that Babymetal is completely manufactured. It probably doesn't have a sincere bone in its body, which is something I'd usually criticise with an album. Even the name Babymetal alone screams cash-cow. It's usually the manufactured bollocks I gave a hard time on this blog and yet to call Babymetal manufactured bollocks would be a complete lie. It's manufactured, but it isn't bollocks. Its actually really bloody interesting stuff. The producers in charge here were the creative ones, really trying to push boundaries of manufactured music. And don't think that just because it's decent manufactured music that Babymetal is about the music. They're not. It's the money. "One for the money, two for the money, three for the money. Money, money, money, money!" the girls sing in 'Onedari Daisakusen', probably their longest English verse. It's all for the money and don't you forget it. Babymetal are here to milk the Japanese metal fans of their walking, head banging wallet of cash and that is the sole reason this album was made.
But being manufactured isn't a reason to be hated. The reason I hated manufactured music previously was because it was boring. Box ticking, predictable, boringness. Babymetal could have been box ticking, defiantly as far as genre inclusion goes, but it's still fun to listen to. It's a manufactured I can tolerate, because it actually tries to be new and inventive. It isn't the same four by four beat as synths and triangle waves float in a sea of auto tuned bollocks written for horny 14 year olds. I really think the entire pop industry can take a leaf from Babymetal's album and make an attempt to be inventive and unpredictable for once.
I wish Babymetal the best, I really do. It's a fun album and maybe one day I'll have fun watching the girls perform live. This is the cash-cow I'm happy to give money to. Now imagine that pop industry. Imagine a product that people actually WANT to buy rather than just being force fed until they assume there is no other choice. What a crazy notion, eh?
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