BABYMETAL
"Metal Resistance"

(RAL/Sony Music Entertainment)

01. Road of Resistance
02. Karate
03. Awadama Fever
04. YAVA!
05. Amore
06. Meta Taro
07. From Dusk Till Dawn
08. GJ!
09. Sis. Anger
10. No Rain, No Rainbow
11. Tales of The Destinies
12. The One (English version)

RATING: 8/10

It takes insane wherewithal to pull off what BABYMETAL, originally components of the SAKURA GAKUIN pop troupe, has. They're the equivalent of a charismatic sports team with an in-house screwball or two that attracts a large fandom, inevitably opening the door for haters. People were shocked — some appalled — at the sight of teen girls darting about in frilly skirts and pigtails to the unfathomable mash of metal and J-pop. Yet Suzaka Nakamoto (or "Su-metal") and her junior side arms (Yui Mizuno, "Yuimetal", and Moa Kikuchi, "Moametal", respectively) played their springy "metal idol" game right to the top of the global sales charts, earning a rare, even more so in these times, Gold status. Japanese lady punker vets SHONEN KNIFE have to be just a little envious.

Resistance is futile. BABYMETAL's songs are just too catchy; their stage choreography too proficient. Their arena-blooming presentation is dragged kicking and screaming out of the eighties with a manga makeover. Yeah, you say you hate it, but a lot of you secretly play "Gimme Chocolate" on YouTube over and over again. Secretly you also dig PUFFY AMIYUMI's popping "Teen Titans" theme. How can you not? Again: Resistance is futile.

Success is all but locked in for BABYMETAL's second album, "Metal Resistance". Su-metal is now 18, Yui and Moa 16, and with their blossoming ages comes even more polish. "Metal Resistance" also comes with several new bags of tricks in the bid to legitimize this act and refute flash-in-the-pan prophecies.

Following an epic instrumental intro with the din of scrambling citizens (Godzilla forever!), "Road of Resistance" slingshots forward with DRAGONFORCE-like speed. Su, Yui and Moa calmly navigate the pummeling velocity with the J-pop flair that has made their names across the world. Demon ralphs are tossed about "Road of Resistance" to help drop metalheads into a comfort zone. Keep in mind, if you despised BABYMETAL's 2014 album, you're unlikely to have a change of heart this time around.

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"Karate" is appropriately chopped and socked with a zillion breakdown chugs, which setup the harmonious choruses. The song's real breakdown is appositely sedate. If you've ever shopped at an Asian supermarket, you'll feel perfectly at home in those leaner moments. Taking a cue from PUFFY AMIYUMI's ridiculously clever genre bending, the BABYMETAL trio freewheels some ska and EDM into the pumping, synth-spritzed "YAVA!" It shouldn't be any surprise then, that the girls scat about the proto pumps of "GJ!" (J-rap, anyone?) before sprinkling synchronized vocal flowers atop the track's trouncing choruses.

ATARI TEENAGE RIOT-meets-ENGLISH BEAT with nattering guitar plugs on "Awadama Fever", this album's inescapable addiction track. If you found yourself begging for a lifeline to pull you out of "Gimme Chocolate"'s bubble-gummy trap last go-round, you'll be in it knee-deep again with "Awadama Fever". One of the album's coolest is "Amore", and it is one of the album's most refined songs. Here BABYMETAL imprints their honeyed pop rocks against tsunami speed and shredding guitars. Trip hop and EDM vault all over the electro-ballad "From Dusk Till Dawn". Open your mind and surrender as Su-metal peels some beautiful, tear-jerking high notes.

Is that Scandinavian folk metal plowing through "Meta Taro"? What the hell? Yes, it is. It's the beauty and the beast metal ploy complete with a ralphing sidekick. While "Meta Taro" is a smidge awkward, if appreciably adventurous, the ladies' confidence works to its favor. And wait, is "Sis. Anger" what you think it is: a playful jibe at METALLICA's expense? Yes and no. The intentionally grubby guitars and chunky drums are no doubt knocking on "St. Anger", but the joke is inferred instead of pressed as BABYMETAL coasts along with the veering tempos that grind as much as march. It's a weird but amusing endeavor. The ladies then pull off the fragrant, straight-played power ballad "No Rain, No Rainbow", which will easily become an arena-echoing sing-along at their gigs, as "The One" (sent out on this album in English) already does.

With age, experience and a willingness to take a stand against teen social issues comes irrefutable maturity on this album. BABYMETAL sends out "Tales of the Destinies" not only with bits in English, but turns their formidable "Babybone" band's prog side loose, DREAM THEATER-style. Su, Yui and Moa do their mightiest to strive for artistry on "Metal Resistance", knowing full well that the words "gimmick" and "novelty" hover about their young heads. As with everything else these ladies have attempted thus far, BABYMETAL's boldness will make them legends of some sort, no matter how long this bizarre but intriguing ride takes them.

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