I'm Sorry: Why I Was Wrong to Love Babymetal


Written by: ScreamingSteelUS
Published: 01.04.2018


Two years ago to this very day, I published a review of Metal Resistance, the sophomore album of controversial "kawaii metal" act Babymetal, and I gave that album a wonderfully generous score of 9/10. At first, most people dismissed it as an April Fools joke, but some were suspicious - and when that review stayed up well past April 1st with no sign of take-backsies, it became clear that what I had done was no laughing matter. I had published something on the famously unforgiving internet wherein I showered laud on this "idol metal" trio, and I expected people to treat that as a genuine critique and take me seriously as a reviewer in the aftermath.

Ah, what a fool I was… Over these long and hideous two years, I've received comment after comment pleading with me to see reason or, more frequently, informing me that my credibility as a reviewer has been lost to the void eternally and irrevocably. Even now, fat, balding Exodus fans and teenage keyboard kvltists bravely refuse to let such a challenge go unanswered, making perfectly clear exactly which bands they prefer and why my taste is inferior. Some readers out there - and I don't use the term "heroes" often, but maybe they would be better called so - will never get over the fact that a respectable publication like Metal Storm let this nonsense fly.

Sure, I guess most sensible people would ignore such juvenile comments and listen to the music that they want to listen to, regardless of the opinions that strangers on the internet hold… but I'm not one of those idiots. I didn't become editor-in-chief of a webzine called Metal Storm so I could discourage gatekeeping. I have a responsibility to ensure that heavy metal remains as it always has been: static, safe, pure, enduring. Some things are simply never acceptable in this genre, and change is one of them. For all this time, I thought I was doing the right thing: expanding my horizons, exposing people to new sounds they weren't familiar with but might dig, encouraging growth and experimentation across musical genres. But then, one evening while I was lying in bed and staring at my Manowar albums, as I often do, it struck me. On those covers, I no longer saw a quartet of greased-up Conan-esque metal warriors gazing proudly into the distance at something that was probably pretty cool. Instead, I saw four slabs of heavy metal beefcake looking very disappointed in me, disgusted that I had profaned the holy genre by implying that it could somehow be changed, diluted, even - nay, dare I even suggest it? - improved upon.

How did I come to the conclusion that my ways were twisted and wrong? If I had to be honest, I would say it was the barrage of negative feedback. Nothing changes a man's opinion like being berated with angry clichés and illogical pseudo-arguments fired from the hip. And more than simply the comments here on Metal Storm, which, all things considered, were pretty dispassionate, it was the broader expanse of thoughtful critique and illuminating cultural commentary rushing to shore up the metal vanguard on all corners of the internet, just in case some unenlightened outsider happened to catch a glimpse of us not being totally f***ing br00tal all the time and fostered the wildly inaccurate belief that sometimes metalheads like cute stuff, too.

Heavy metal thrives today because of its rigid adherence to established tropes and predetermined avenues of songwriting. And, yes, naturally, there has to be some amount of deviation from the norm - that's how we wound up with this whole genre in the first place - but only within certain acceptable parameters. Punk and hard rock are acceptable nonmetal genres, if you have to wander - but folk, jazz, hip-hop, industrial, country, blues, noise, and especially pop music, and especially especially J-pop: stay away from metal if you know what's good for you. Not pure metal? Walk on home, boy. Somehow, swept up in all the hype of being a hopeless weeaboo fanboy desperate for any kind of attention from the Japanese metal scene, I forgot that I have a certain responsibility as a Metal Warrior. I must protect this genre from indignity, from mainstream exposure, and, most of all, from catchy melodies. Dance routines? Professional songwriters? Lucrative merchandising? Teenage girls? Absolutely unacceptable.

Heavy metal is not a genre for children. It's a genre for big, burly men and pale, weedy Scandinavians, and that's about it. Teenagers like these Babymetal kids have never produced a listenable metal album and never will; it's simply not within their physical capabilities. That's why albums like Death Angel's The Ultra-Violence, Slayer's Show No Mercy, Death's Scream Bloody Gore, and Helloween's Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I are all complete dross. And while we're on the subject, this whole "female-fronted" genre got old very quickly. One Nightwish was more than enough, thanks; every other metal band with a woman singer is just a much worse ripoff. I guess Babymetal themselves aren't on that specific trip, but, you know, the point stands.

As someone who claims to be a professional reviewer, I don't know how I've slept at night knowing that, while Babymetal is loose on the world with their 9/10 review from a single insignificant, pasty, socially awkward editor whose opinion likely matters to no one outside himself, I've been casting aspersions on the recent output of infallible legacy acts like Metallica, Wintersun, Primordial, Mastodon, Abbath, Accept, Amon Amarth, and Machine Head. These are bands that have always been superior in every way to a manufactured idol group like Babymetal, simply because they write their own music, play their own instruments, and are just, you know, better, just because. A great band never deserves to be trashed, or even remotely critiqued or treated with an honest appraisal, no matter how substandard their current output. Metallica may not be good anymore, but they used to be - and if I've forgotten that, if I can't lace my review of Hardwired with the phrase, "Yeah, but remember how they also wrote Ride The Lightning" just so we're all on the same page, then I don't deserve to have and share an opinion about other bands.

Quite damningly, Babymetal toured with Lady Gaga and Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, as hated pop stars of our era, are avowed enemies of all things heavy metal. Clearly, defending the World's Greatest Music Genre isn't among their priorities, or else they wouldn't be teenage girls from Japan. And everyone who associates with Babymetal - formerly respectable names like Judas Priest, Carcass, Metallica, Opeth, Slayer, Rob Zombie, Marty Friedman, Chthonic, Guns N' Roses, Abbath, Lamb Of God, Deftones, Trivium, DragonForce, and Anthrax - is no longer welcome in the metal world. If you can tolerate this aural disease, you are immediately and eternally branded a poser, a follower of false metal, and you must leave the hall.

In other words… I am deeply and truly sorry that I ever held any sort of regard for Babymetal. When they released their first single in 2011, my reaction was one of disgust and indignation; I should have learned to hold onto such pettiness and let it define my life. I look back on those free and easy days of April 2016 and feel only deep shame and embarrassment at my naïve acceptance of this tragic marriage of unmetal elements.

Of course, this doesn't change the fact that K-On! is way better than Metalocalypse.




*Disclaimer: Part of the 2018 April Fools Collection. I'm quite happy with my Babymetal review, thank you very much!*



 



Written on 01.04.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 41   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 503 users
11.04.2018 - 19:29
Zaph
The Nothingth
Ugh, some of the comments on this thread...
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The road is long, and the road is hard, and many fall by the side.
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12.04.2018 - 05:42
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by mariano on 11.04.2018 at 15:56

Pal, I can only imagine how much frustration you've accumulated for an entire year of negative feedback. However, writing a long article full of irony and contempt is not the best way to deal with it.

Suggesting that your own audience is a bunch of stupid narrow minded racists, really doesn't do any good to this website, specially if you are chief editor.

Very little frustration, in fact. Comments like the ones I made reference to are imbecilic and occasionally annoying, but more often than not they are simply amusing. Though it is something roughly equivalent to satire and plenty of irony went into its creation, this article was written in the spirit of good fun and without a breath of contempt for anyone. If I were genuinely offended and pissed off about the feedback I'd gotten, I probably would not go to the trouble of veiling my screed behind an April Fools joke, and then I'd probably have wound up embarrassed enough to take it down within a week.

Metal fans have a reputation for narrow-mindedness that is often unfortunate but often well-deserved, despite what we might like to think, and many of our peers still have some big lessons to learn about not acting like a frenzied lunatic every time somebody does something not completely, ultimately "true." Most of the people I interact with here on Metal Storm, however, at least on any kind of regular basis, are pleasant, intelligent people. I'd gain nothing from attacking my readership directly, and so I didn't.

I think this article contains some valid criticism inasmuch as there are very clearly people to whom it may be appropriately directed, but I didn't write it out of malice or injury. It's just a bit of fun.
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Row, row, fight the power
Djently down the stream

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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12.04.2018 - 07:20
selken
Irreligious
I like Babymetal, and I like it a lot, their albums are staples on my car playlist, and while I know many of their musicianship is made for the sake of catchiness, I'm totally ok with that. Of course, I cannot put Babymetal in the same league as Dark Tranquillity, Dissection, Kreator, X Japan or Gargoyle. But kami band knows how to put out some good riffs and solos.
Japanese music is different, no wonder how they spent like 700 years isolated from the rest of mankind, they simply view things way different than we do. Their pop music is different, their rock is different, their metal is different, you just cannot measure Japanese media with Western standards.

But the only thing I feel more thankful for, is the fact that Babymetal got me to know one of my now Top Tier bands: Yousei Teikoku.
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12.04.2018 - 14:47
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Written by selken on 12.04.2018 at 07:20

Yousei Teikoku

That oughta be maybe my favourite metal band which is not black metal. All of their albums are so effing good.
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19.04.2018 - 21:07
Brogkul
This is number one bullshit.
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"The Sly One"
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23.04.2018 - 01:06
MyNameJeff
Anyone who got upset by any of the comments or the article itself needs to google "Gregorian solar calendar" and learn how to use one.
I'm telling ya it might come in handy for predicting the occurrence of various social and cultural events! :p :p :p :p
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23.04.2018 - 02:57
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
Written by MyNameJeff on 23.04.2018 at 01:06

Anyone who got upset by any of the comments or the article itself needs to google "Gregorian solar calendar" and learn how to use one.
I'm telling ya it might come in handy for predicting the occurrence of various social and cultural events! :p :p :p :p


and qft.
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Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

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24.04.2018 - 19:08
Mario Montes
With no intention of being disrespectful, I must say this is the most pointless article ever written. Look I don't give a shit about Babymetal, but justifying your personal tastes to a bunch of brainless teens is a waste of time. Close minded people are the ones supposed to evolve and adapt, not the opposite.
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25.04.2018 - 08:07
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Written by Mario Montes on 24.04.2018 at 19:08

but justifying your personal tastes to a bunch of brainless teens is a waste of time. Close minded people are the ones supposed to evolve and adapt, not the opposite.


Considering the fact that this article was posted on 1st April.

I think you're taking way too personal.
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25.04.2018 - 18:41
Mario Montes
Damn! Then I've been fooled?
Well the original review was also published on April fools, so how should I take it? Maybe he's trolling over the trolled path... The metatroll !!!



Or maybe I'm just an idiot
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10.05.2018 - 01:14
Karlabos
Weirdo of MS
Written by blue_viking on 10.05.2018 at 00:37

Loving Babymetal at first sight: I get it.
Getting criticised for loving Babymetal: I get it.
Writing an article on how loving Babymetal was wrong: I completely get it.
But taking down Opeth, Carcass, Judas Priest and several other monuments in the process? That's just bad writing.

I'm no expert but I don't think you get the third one...
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