After what seems like forever, BABYMETAL have returned bigger and better with their new concept album The Other One. Just Panda gives her professional kitsune opinion on the new release.
After the long period of being sealed away, Sumetal and Moa-metal are back, with new music, new live performances and a new concept album.
I have listened to the new record on repeat since its release, and wow, what a record! Su’s familiar vocals are all there, but the music is on another level. Heavy and light in the same breath, the production is out of this world. This is a mature sounding BABYMETAL, and I’m not mad about it one bit. All the chat online about the lack of the old kawaii style is rampant amongst the hardcore fans, and I totally get where they are coming from. But Sumetal and Moa–metal aren’t the little girls of Doki Doki Morning anymore, they are evolving into their new era, and I think The One should embrace this new sound.
Metal Kingdom has all the traits of a BABYMETAL opener, big vocals and the ‘whoa whoas’ that the crowd can join in with. This is one of the 5 released singles prior to the album release, with an MV featuring the live performance from January’s Makuhari Messi shows. I loved the dramatic costumes, they fit well with the song and have all the qualities of a BABYMETAL set opener, and I would expect this to be the live opener for the foreseeable. Loved it.
Devine Attack-Shingeki– was the first release after the ‘unsealing’ of BABYMETAL. A heavy djent focused track, there’s a nice build up during the verse before the big chorus. As a lover of the dance music scene (I’m musically eclectic) I found this track to be quite the jam. I know a lot of fans weren’t too please with the dance driven focus of this track, especially as its the first one we’ve had in over two years. But hey, this is BABYMETAL, they like to come back with a bang.
The concept of light and dark are featured throughout the record, and none more so than on Maya. This track almost blasted my ears off! That noisy opening riff is ridiculous and reminded me of some of the newer Slipknot releases. That super heavy guitar and bass with thundering drums was complimented by Su’s soft vocals on the verse before a quality melodic chorus. We get some Moa vocals in the chorus, too, which is most enjoyable. Lots of fans have been saying this is the heavy track they were waiting for, and for the heavier wanting fans out there, they won’t be disappointed. It’s definitely a highlight for me and one that I hope makes it onto the upcoming tour.
Another stand-out track for me is METALIZM. Heavy and dark with a driving beat and eastern inspired guitar licks, this is probably the track I have listened to most. Su does a great job with the vocals, and I love the repetitive chorus, another one for the fans to join in with. Again, the theme of light and dark is clear in this one, with the vocals brought forward in the mix with that heavy riffage supporting. It took a few playthroughs for me to realise that this is one hell of a track. The heaviness and eastern style work really well together. The writers know this from the success of Shanti Shanti Shanti, a crowd pleaser that’s been on the touring setlist since its release. I have no doubt this will be a firm favourite with the fanbase.
The most recent release, Mirror Mirror, has a real cracker of an intro. Those progressive technical metal guitar riffs and broken time signatures before a demonic breakdown are delight from a prog-metal view. Su singing in English doesn’t bring much to the track, I always prefer her vocals in Japanese. Again, there is an enjoyable blend of light and dark on this track, one that the fans have been talking about a lot. The chorus is in perfect contrast to the verse. It has that delicious BABYMETAL quirkiness that I feel is missing from the rest of the record.
Now, there’s been some talk within the fanbase about this next track, and I would say it’s 50/50 love or hate. And that’s Time Wave. The intro gave me heavy Blood Stain Child vibes; and I am all for that! Electro trance fused with metal, you can’t help but want to dance to this track. The chorus is big and bright, with a real J-pop feel to it. I would like to hear more of this style, I think it works well for BABYMETAL. I hope they bring this one on tour. *dances*
Monochrome has to be a solid favourite for me. When they released it as a single and the incredible stripped back performance on The First Take, this song has all the uplifting feels I had been waiting for. It has a proggy guitar opening, which still keeps that trad BABYMETAL feel that leads into what I believe to be Su’s best vocal performance of her career. That rise in the chorus she manages with ease. You can hear how her voice has matured on this track, and it brought a tear to my eye on the first listen. I really enjoyed Moa’s vocals on the chorus, too, velvety and brightening. Yes, she is featured on a few times on the previous tracks, but I did enjoy her part on this one most. It’s a crying shame she is not featured more vocally, something a lot of fans have been very outspoken about. And quite rightly so. The fact that she seems to have been pushed further into the background and seems to be no more than a dancer, Koba, you are missing a trick here. And you’re not listening to the fans. But that’s a whole other article, right?
Ok, I can’t just sit and review this album without mentioning the high-quality sound of this record. The production and musicianship are above and beyond all the previous BABYMETAL releases. It seems that the writers really got to show off their skills while composing this record, and the post-production mastering is by far the best sound I’ve heard from them. That musical talent should not be hidden away in the lore of BABYMETAL. These musicians and composers are world-class. Each track is deliberately sprinkled with tight solo guitar, and you can tell they have had a lot of fun running up and down the fretboard with creative arpeggios and licks. A joy to beholden.
There’s so much gatekeeping in the metal community, particularly from overseas metalheads who like to pipe up on Twitter and Facebook posts. ‘That’s not real metal’ they write. It’s so frustrating as a fan and lover of music to see this because I know they are missing out on some quality music. Perhaps a small part of me thinks it’s their loss, and I can keep this enjoyment to myself. But music should be shared and enjoyed and embraced. And part of me feels sad for those who just want to shout down BABYMETAL because it’s not what they are used to.
The Other One is, by far, the best record BABYMETAL has put out. The album is coherent, and each track blends to the next with purpose, something that was lacking in the previous METAL GALAXY release. I think they have succeeded in producing a concept album, and it fills me with metal joy. Thematically, the idea of light and dark is well incorporated throughout, not only from track to track but within each track. It’s a pleasure to the ears. Tracks like Believing, a heavy progressive metal track featuring wild arpeggios and time signatures dappled with bright vocals, and Light and Darkness, an uplifting rock ballad of sorts, have all the qualities of a grown up sounding BABYMETAL. I enjoyed the mix of the more classic prog metal with the new djent, almost dance vibe. It works. They made it work.
Final track The Legend has all the emotional feels that we got when The One was released. Featuring soft vocals, bright chord progressions, and even some jazzy sax playing near the end (anyone else get Ghost Papa Nihil vibes here?) I felt this an appropriate ending to the record. And I’m guessing this will be what we get to end the live shows on the upcoming tours. And what of it? (Is someone cutting onions?)
With two upcoming solo shows in Japan before embarking on tour as support to Sabaton, and tours of Asia and Australia to come after, I have no doubt BABYMETAL will return to the UK for a proper tour. The fanbase can hopefully look forward to the return of Avenger Momoko Okazaki, who toured as support alongside Riho Sayashi and Kano Fujihira during the METAL GALAXY shows. And with Fox Day just around the corner (at the time of this publication), will we see Momoko become a full-time member of the new era of BABYMETAL?
Only the Fox God Knows?!
I will be at the London show in April, and I look forward to hearing some of the new tracks live. See you there, kitsunes!
We are The One.
BABYMETAL return to the UK April 2023 on tour with SABATON.
The Other One is available to purchase now.
Photos and artwork from the official BABYMETAL Twitter.
To support BABYMETAL
https://www.babymetal.com/en/ https://twitter.com/BABYMETAL_JAPAN https://instagram.com/babymetal_official