Only Chocolate Is RealBy now you've no doubt heard of Babymetal, the Japanese idol band that's somehow also a metal band fronted by adorable teenage girls in cutesy outfits. Isn't one of the driving ideas behind Metalocalypse the idea that extreme metal going mainstream would trigger the apocalypse? We might be there.
Anyway, like you, I first heard them and dismissed them. I didn't want to, because I'm a bit of an otaku-wannabe, but it's more polished than In Flames, and I can't stand my metal that polished. But over the last couple weeks I took in heavy doses of completely untrue music, like Powerman 5000, indie pop group LAKE, and a few other oddities. But it was the Babymetal tunes that I found myself humming throughout the day.
To appreciate it, you have to forget the idea that this is a metal band, even if the guys on the instruments came into it with some credibility. No, this is a meticulously crafted pop band, manufactured probably how Conan O'Brien did with Dudez-A-Plenti.* Elements are carefully selected and mashed together to make sure no one will ever get bored, and the hooks keep coming so no one will ever get the songs out of their heads.
"Megitsune" sets the stage with a pretty straight-forward example of the formula. There's tons of synths and there's a breakdown. "Gimme Chocolate!!" goes really J-pop before it throws in a guitar solo. "line!" sounds exactly like something out of Dance Dance Revolution, but with a hilarious rap break and a ridiculously heavy chug right after that, while "Uki Uki Midnight" does DDR with a dubstep part. This might lead a typical observer to note the many random genres thrown together, but a metalhead will identify even more. Most of it's a kind of generic modern metal, but there's old-school thrash ("Song 4"), some Static-X shenanigans ("Catch Me If You Can"), groove metal ("Onedari Daisakusen"), and djent mixed with Nightwish ("Rondo of Nightmare"). "Akatsuki" is basically indistinguishable from Rhapsody of Fire.
So, let's cut right to the quick. This is a novelty group, and even the metal parts that they appropriate aren't the kinds of metal that will get you underground cred.** But it's so addictive I think it's given me brain damage. That is, about five out of the thirteen songs are, and the rest is mostly filler. Those semi-sweet morsels keep me coming back just the same.
The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars
* The boy band bonus feature on the Late Night with Conan O'Brien 10th Anniversary Special DVD might be the funniest thing I've ever seen. "No one should ever see your face."
** If you're still reading this page after finding out I like My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, then I think I don't have to worry about that.