When I first sat down to type out this post, it was with the full intention of tearing the piss out of Babymetal.
This trio of precocious teenage girls — average age is 15 — has become one of the hottest forces in metal thanks to techno-infused J-pop layered over metallic riffs and blasting drums that have more in common with extreme metal than the world of pop. Videos for tracks like “Head Bangya!” are audio/visual assaults on every sense, with imagery and production that are as if cartoon metallers Dethklok came to life and were then given a cute Japanese anime finish.
I am very accepting of the cheesier elements of metal that come from within the genre’s own conventions. But having one of the newest global phenomenons associated with metal come from the Japanese pop idol industry was a hard pill to swallow.
As the group’s popularity spread worldwide over the last year-and-a-half — leading to a sold-out U.S. debut this Sunday at the Fonda Theatre and a string of dates opening for Lady Gaga — the heavy metal purist in me became resentful. For every blog post and news article I saw out there on Babymetal, I got more and more upset that other Japanese acts like experimental black-metal greats Sigh and sludge-doomsters Church of Misery have slogged it out for years, never sniffing the attention that these teenage phenoms are receiving.
One member of the group admitted that she had never heard heavy metal music before the group was formed by their producer. There was a sense that outsiders had invaded metal, and that the outsiders were winning. My heavy metal nerd rage kept growing as their U.S. debut grew closer, and festered even more when photos surfaced of the group posing with members of some of metal’s most hallowed acts like Slayer and Carcass.
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But this week, as I re-watched the various music videos and tour greetings to their fans on their YouTube page, I kept seeing the smiles of three teenage girls and their fans having a blast. This trio gets to see the world and have a great time performing while doing it. Everything I have to bitch about is just bitching for bitching’s sake.
Besides, if one of Babymetal’s fans checks out Reek of Putrefaction because they saw of a picture of their favorite group hanging with Carcass, then we’re still winning the war.
Babymetal perform at the Fonda Theatre this Sunday, July 27th.