British extreme metal pioneers CARCASS have defended BABYMETAL against the "gimmick" tag given to them by critics who liken them to the success of Swedish occult metallers GHOST.
Established in 2010, BABYMETAL is the offshoot of the Japanese pop idol group SAKURA GAKUIN that performs a distinctly Japanese mix of schoolgirl J-pop and heavy metal.
BABYMETAL's members — Suzuka Nakamoto (a.k.a. Su-Metal, who handles vocals and dancing), Yui Mizuno (a.k.a. Yuimetal) and Moa Kikuchi (a.k.a. Moametal), the latter of whom both scream and dance — admit that they had never listened to metal before joining the group. The girls wear gothy schoolgirl costumes, do choreographed dance routines and bang their heads violently.
Many heavy metal fans have been reluctant to embrace BABYMETAL — which also includes producer Kobametal and a backing band of corpse-painted virtuosos — with some Internet forums calling them "the definition of a gimmick", "awful" and "metal for hipsters."
Asked by Nuclear Blast what his highlight of last month's Sonisphere festival in the U.K. was, CARCASS bassist/vocalist Jeff Walker replied (see video below): "My highlight was getting my picture taken with BABYMETAL." Pressed on whether he was a fan of BABYMETAL, Walker said: "I'm starting to warm to the idea of what they're doing. It's actually fun, you know — like GHOST, to be honest. Some people get very reactionary about a band like GHOST or BABYMETAL. It puts a smile on people's faces. That's what music's about, isn't it?! Enjoying it and not being so serious." CARCASS guitarist Bill Steer added: "I mean, obviously, we don't cover this ourselves, but the fun, entertainment angle [in music], it is important."
One of the Nameless Ghouls from GHOST was also quick to defend BABYMETAL when TeamRock spoke to him at Sonishere. GHOST performed on the main stage at the event immediately after BABYMETAL, and the Nameless Ghoul admitted: "I actually stood on side stage when [BABYMETAL] went on and I watched the chaos and the weirdness that surrounded them.
"They obviously attract so much attention wherever they go, and for a reason, of course — they are bizarre in many ways. I mean, we obviously like bizarre, so they are obviously doing something right.
"But, yeah, I mean, J-pop [Japanese pop] is always gonna be very weird.
"They seem to be a cool band, I guess. I've seen their 'Gimme Chocolate!' video, and I don't really know what to say about it. Someone really knows what they're doing behind it, but I'm not sure if [the girls] themselves know what they're doing."
CARCASS will return to the United States once again this October/November. Joining them on select dates are Florida death metal legends OBITUARY and the eclectic champions of "murder metal," MACABRE. Death grinders EXHUMED and newcomers NOISEM will open each night of churning insanity.
"We thought it would be cool to go off the beaten track a bit and play some places that usually get overlooked," commented Walker. "We figure some of the tumbleweeds needed blowing away. Pretty chuffed to have managed to get our pals OBITUARY to come along on these dates. As anyone who has seen them recently will testify, they're tearing it up live nowadays."
The dates are as follows:
Oct. 24 - Brick By Brick - San Diego, CA (+ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS)
Oct. 25 - San Manuel Amphitheater - San Bernardino, CA (Knotfest)
Oct. 28 - The Rock - Tucson, AZ *
Oct. 29 - Tricky Falls - El Paso, TX *
Oct. 31 - Chameleon Room - Oklahoma City, OK *
Nov. 01 - Granada - Lawrence, KS *
Nov. 02 - Pops - Sauget, IL *
Nov. 04 - Lincoln Theatre - Raleigh, NC *
Nov. 05 - Broadberry - Richmond, VA *
Nov. 06 - The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC *
Nov. 07 - Exit/In - Nashville, TN *
Nov. 08 - Diamond Pub & Billiards - Louisville, KY *
Nov. 09 - 20th Century Theater - Cincinnati, OH *
Nov. 10 - The Crofoot - Pontiac, MI **
Nov. 11 - Intersection - Grand Rapids, MI **
Nov. 12 - The Majestic - Madison, WI **
Nov. 14 - Wooly's - Des Moines, IA **
Nov. 15 - Mojos - Joliet, IL **
* With OBITUARY
** With MACABRE
Joining Steer and Walker in CARCASS' current incarnation are drummer Daniel Wilding (ABORTED, TRIGGER THE BLOODSHED) and guitarist Ben Ash (PIG IRON, DESOLATION, LIQUEFIED SKELETON).
The band's latest album, "Surgical Steel" sold around 8,500 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 41 on The Billboard 200 chart. The CD was released on September 16, 2013 in the U.K., September 13, 2013 in the rest of Europe and September 17, 2013 in North America via Nuclear Blast Records.