My relationship with Babymetal has been strained at best. When I first saw them at Sonisphere, I hated them with every fiber of my being. When I decided to give the album a go I was brought round a bit, the songs were catchy enough that it was hard to hate but over time I’ve never once returned to it. It was a curiosity, nothing more. However, the rest of the world very much did and slowly and surely Babymetal have been building up one hell of a fanbase, all desperate to see what they will do next.
Which is this, ‘Karate’ and fuck me if it isn’t actually quite good. It’s taken all the things that people liked about the first Babymetal album and ramped them up another 100%. The metal, which a lot of people were high on from the first release, is even better here. Those riffs are genuinely heavy and have got some real crunch to them. That was never going to be the problem, though, the real issue I have with Babymetal is the vocals and those have improved too.
On their debut album, Babymetal had a habit of bursting into what basically sounded like chirping. It wasn’t actively painful but it was annoying and while there it a bit of that at the start of this song, they’ve mainly ditched the silliness and instead embraced melodic vocals. It is frustrating to have the album build up these groove metal riffs and then not drop into the kind of bone-crushing chorus we are used too, but these choruses are big and even though I don’t speak a word of the language I’m on board.
I still don’t love Babymetal, and the truth is I probably never will. I can’t listen to them or watch them play without thinking that somewhere out there is some hard working band that hasn’t been put together by a record label that deserve my time ten times more. However, ‘Karate’ suggests that they are very much here to stay and the next time they happen to be playing in a field near me, I won’t be quite so prepared to kill them for it.