Watching Babymetal – a trio of teenage Japanese toy dolls having synchronised tantrums, kung fu fights and pointing contests along to a Kami Band of chundering ghouls in sanatorium whites – you can’t help but wonder if comedy great Harry Hill might ponder: “I like J-Pop but I also like hardcore thrash metal. But which one’s best?”
J-Pop undoubtedly wins the ensuing Tekken battle. As brutally as the band can hammer out Babymetal Death and the electro-thrash Awadama Fever, once singers Su-metal, Yiametal and Moametal stop chanting “Death! Death!” like sinister cheerleaders of doom and unleash the devastating pure pop hooks of Doki Doki Morning and Gimme Chocolate!!, they twist the rock around their pointy fingers.
Sling in Phantom-style show-tunes sung by Su-metal in a variety of capes, a corny ancient temple set and films about the band’s ‘Fox God’ mythology, and the cheesy manga pop aesthetic proves the mightier force.
Yes, there are bits where it sounds like Megadeth are the house band of Japan’s Got Talent. But when tracks from new album Metal Resistance such as GJ!, Meta Taro and Amore venture into the realms of hip-hop, reggae, emo and US military anthems (complete with flag parades), Babymetal threaten to leap beyond their manufactured origins.
Their metal revolution needs to reinvent rock culture quick though, the novelty’s fast wearing off.