Do you like heavy metal? I certainly do. From stealing my mother’s copy of Blackout by the Scorpions when I was 5, to my Gothenburg phase as a teenager, and into the current era of slow building riffs, I’ve always had some heavy metal in rotation. It’s not the only thing I listen to, because well, that would be stupid. However, if a power chord on 11 doesn’t make you want to get up and throw shit, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. That last sentiment, however, is exactly why the world needed Babymetal. There’s this horrible thing called sub-culture where people define themselves by the crap that they’re into. If you don’t think you’re silly, think about Juggalos for a second. Haha, I know right?! You look that stupid. You really do.
Rock & Roll was the devil’s music as soon as it landed. The genre’s name was a reference to fucking, it was invented by blacks and sold to white kids when atheism was as hated as Islam, and people of color were hated even worse. About 15 years into Rock & Roll’s life, its louder, ugly cousin named Heavy Metal was born. More sexual innuendo, simpler chords, bigger fuzz boxes, bigger amps, bigger hair, pointier guitars, Robert Plant’s package on full display, and now they were actually writing songs about Satan! That’s right, before Ozzy Osbourne was a tv dad no one respects, he was the scariest son of a bitch in popular music. The moral panic kept growing until grunge killed the genre and nobody cared anymore.
This started to cultivate a personality type associated with heavy metal. We listen to scary music. Glenda in accounting was horrified when I put on Mercyful Fate the other day. Hah! Fuck her! There was a time and a place for this kind of anxiety, it was called the 1980s. Satanic Ritual Abuse was a huge conspiracy theory that wasn’t outright debunked by the FBI until the early 90s. Dungeons & Dragons, a role playing game where players could practice the imaginary kind of magic that so many great metal songs have been written about, was being taken too seriously by kids and lead to a few deaths. The problem is, after the people who play Dungeons & Dragons accepted that their hobby was just nerdy bullshit, metalheads never did the same.
Enter the 90’s. The death metal scene was emerging in the late 80s, but oh crap, it’s landed. Louder, meaner, more violent, and all those songs about sex now involve necrophilia and knives. Satan is still a big topic. This really enabled the metalhead as we know him, but then an abomination was dropped onto the genre that it never recovered from…… Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power. This is an album that almost single-handedly destroyed heavy metal forever. Now there was a section of heavy metal that was only about how tough you are. Your music is tougher than other people’s music. How do you know this? Philip Anselmo told you so when he was inciting a small riot of methamphetamine addicts full of beer who beat their girlfriends. The album’s dumb riffs and pseudo-political commentary just swim in the shallow end of a white trash pool that’s better left explored by proper misanthropes and junkies like Eyehategod. Have you been told you listen to pussy rock by a Disturbed fan lately? Thank Pantera for that.
Meanwhile in Japan, Christianity was never a widely established religion, fucking has been the norm, and mixing genres that don’t belong together has become a casual hobby. This was the perfect climate for a teen pop producer to casually go “Hm, this needs more blast beats”. Thus, Babymetal was born! That’s right, Japan has found they can sell extreme metal to 12 year olds if they throw in teen-pop harmonies and random breaks for dance beats because nobody there is afraid of it. The record spends its time going down a whole mesh of heavy metal tropes whilst doing random genre breaks for hip-hop, reggae, and house music just because it can. Basically, if Mike Patton were involved, everybody would be on this album’s nuts.
But, no, so many metalheads are butthurt. Those who aren’t butthurt, but don’t like it, just don’t care. They don’t listen to it. It’s that Vulgar Display of Small Penis that has men on the internet in droves screaming about how heavy metal is being destroyed by this. It’s because the album features all the things that usually make them macho: blast beats, death growls, grinding guitar riffs, fast chromatic guitar solos, all these things they’ve sworn for years make their music more masculine than what the jocks who beat them up in high school listen to, and it is in no way scary, brutal, or in validation of their masculinity.
Let’s be real here. Listed below is a picture of my little sister. She competes in amateur MMA tournaments in Reno. She listens to R&B. If you’re a pussy, but you listen to goregrind, you’re still a pussy. Just come to terms with it.
This is why Babymetal is so important to heavy metal. It strips that delusion away. It takes every element you’re familiar with and places it into a context that it just doesn’t belong in. This gives you the opportunity to reflect on some things, like wow, a lot of heavy metal these days is really over produced. You know, drum triggers, guitar amps so oversaturated they have no dynamic range, and that death(mall)core shit really has the clean vocal choruses dialed in like radio metal schlock such as Five Finger Death Punch. Your taste in music has never made you tough, scary, or validated your masculinity for you. If you go listen to The Cure right now, you’ll only be as gay as you already were.
With that, here are some Babymetal videos on Youtube if you want to start deciding that kawaii metal is actually adorable and not ruining the identity you’ve wasted your teens and twenties trying to achieve.