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If you thought you had BABYMETAL all figured out, be assured you are not even close.
The Japanese kawaii-metal crossover phenomenon have spent the last decade delighting and decimating audiences across the globe with their loud, proud and outrageously catchy take on modern heavy music: mixing the power and innocence of J-pop with thrashing, massive, arena-ready heavy metal — all wrapped in a thick layer of vast and dense god-level mythology.
Since BABYMETAL burst onto the scene in 2014 with their self-titled debut, their infectious sound has earned them spots opening for everyone from Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and Guns N' Roses to Korn, Lady Gaga and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
They've sold out two nights at their home country's 55,000-cap Tokyo Dome; they were the first Japanese band to headline the U.K.'s Wembley Arena and perform on Glastonbury Festival's main stage; and they've packed the iconic L.A. stadium The Forum, to name just a few highlights of BABYMETAL's journey so far.
They also count a host of rock and metal royalty among their rapidly expanding fanbase. Rob Halford has joined them onstage to perform Judas Priest's "Painkiller" and "Breaking the Law," Bring Me the Horizon brought them into the fold for their chaotic track "Kingslayer," and Polyphia guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage and Arch Enemy's Alissa White-Gluz guested on their 2019 record METAL GALAXY.
Through each of their critically acclaimed releases (which regularly land Top 10 spots on Billboard's World Albums chart), they've built a distinctive musical and thematic universe. Filled with FOX GOD worship, galactic expeditions and more, BABYMETAL's grand vision continues to evolve into graphic novels, ambitious videos and beyond.
But 2023 has seen BABYMETAL take a sharp turn in a different direction. It's transported bandleaders SU-METAL and MOAMETAL into alternate realities to create their most personal record yet — and resulted in their triumphant rebirth as a trio with new singer MOMOMETAL, who will join them on this fall's hotly anticipated North American co-headlining tour with Dethklok.
The catalyst for this change was their new concept album THE OTHER ONE. As the story goes, each of its 10 expressive songs is rooted in 10 different parallel universes in a dimension called METALVERSE.
Expanding beyond their poppy dance realms into more atmospheric post-metal and hard-rock waters was an ambitious route to take for their fourth full-length. But, it was a journey that vocalist MOAMETAL knew was necessary "to discover the BABYMETAL we never knew."
"To explore that all-new side required a lot of planning, discussion and preparation," MOAMETAL continues. "And during that process, it wasn't all that easy, obviously; it was a challenge that sometimes startled us. But we have always [been] a team who challenges ourselves to [do] something new, so we will continue to charge forward!"
Attempting to charge ahead and challenge the stereotypical beliefs some have about the band — that they're a gimmick, a fad — while delving into philosophy, mythology and emotional resonance sounds like an awful lot of heavy lifting.
But when you have a work ethic and drive like BABYMETAL, it's almost second nature. They were so confident in the new worlds they were building that they shared snippets with fans as they went, allowing them insight into the band's fascinating artistic journey.
"Those who purchased the [THE OTHER ONE] BLACK BOX could have access to an exclusive website where they would be able to listen to parts of the new tracks," lead vocalist SU-METAL explains.
"They'd be able to listen to just the guitar sound or some other part of the song in a gradual manner, and they'd be able to enjoy the progress of how the tracks came together. I'm happy that our fans and I shared that experience."
"Up to now, BABYMETAL's songs are relatively easy to distinguish as the lyrics and melodies are pretty catchy," SU-METAL continues. "This time around, we created something on a deeper level and feel like we opened a new door.
"The songs in this album are based on photos and mythology, so many of them are more philosophical, and you discover something new every time you listen to them."
Take "Mirror Mirror," for example, the song that SU-METAL and MOAMETAL say epitomizes their new creative process. A track that flitters between tech-metal fury, soaring atmospheric builds and thoughtful melodies, it is as familiar as it is fiercely new.
And when you dive even deeper, you find a song that is as self-analyzing, raw and dense as the most heart-wrenching poetry.
"The self that others see and the self that you know are two different things. But to see yourself, you must look in a mirror," SU-METAL says. "But is the self in the mirror really the true self? Where is the real me? I feel like this song really expresses this duality.
"It also sounds as if it is a light-sounding song, but if you listen closely, heavy sounds are interwoven throughout the song. I also love that both English and Japanese lyrics are present in the song."
Elsewhere on THE OTHER ONE, "Believing" focuses on how, like the seasons, we cannot stay the same as we were in the past, while "Time Wave" questions the cycles of life and the glorious "Monochrome" welcomes you to look up at the sky and take in its technicolor wonder.
The songs on the new album serve as a reminder that you must never stop learning about yourself and the world around you — and prove just how much BABYMETAL have grown as human beings and musicians over the last decade.
"We've been together as BABYMETAL for over 10 years, but to meet the other side of BABYMETAL we never knew existed was an all-new experience," offers MOAMETAL. "I feel like that entire experience made us even stronger."
She pauses. "From the FOX GOD's perspective, he just wants us to try new things and see things from a different angle."
BABYMETAL's exploration of such sensational new realms may make it seem like a completely different entity is at play here. But their core aims and values are still very much intact.
Community, expression, individuality and passion — those things will never change and will continue to be at the center of their elaborate live shows, which remain the absolute lifeblood of what BABYMETAL is and always will be.
Fittingly, the band are also making an exciting change with those live shows. After being a duo since the departure of singer YUIMETAL back in 2018, BABYMETAL have announced that Momoko Okazaki (who had been part of their backing dance troupe, the AVENGERS) has been promoted to an official third member, dubbed MOMOMETAL.
The reason for the return to their trio configuration? To make their live show even more spectacular than ever before.
"Seeing each and every single person in the audience with my own eyes is always so rewarding," MOAMETAL beams of their connection to their fans. "It's absolutely heartwarming for us that you have all been patiently waiting for us to get back on the road touring and then we can see you from the stage. My heart overflows with gratitude.
"And seeing everyone light up with joy and scream for us makes us so happy. It's so fun to hear everyone's voices during the call-and-response portion of 'Monochrome' and 'Road of Resistance,' specifically."
Those live plans are already in motion, with the band recently touring with Sabaton in the U.K. and Europe. Later this year, they'll be returning to North American stages with Dethklok, the live incarnation of world's most famous animated heavy-metal band, for the co-headlining BABYKLOK Tour.
And despite admitting that they've yet to watch any episodes of the band's series Metalocalypse, BABYMETAL couldn't be more excited to dive into a new universe that is as meticulous, creative and fantastical as theirs.
"It's been a while since we last toured the U.S. and we haven't been back since the pandemic. So I hope to reunite with many of our fans as well as meet new fans, too," MOAMETAL exclaims.
"Unfortunately, Metalocalypse did not air in Japan, so I've never seen it. But before the start of the tour, I want to make sure that I have a chance to see an episode of Metalocalypse and find a favorite character! I wonder if they know about us? I hope that they also feel excited to tour together with us!"
She continues, of the joy that an animated series can bring, "I love anime that focuses on pure, strong and kind female characters. One of my favorite anime is Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Just like Nausicaä, I want to be someone who genuinely loves people and nature and has a strong determination.
"Since I was super young, I've really enjoyed watching Ojamajo Doremi, and it has been an all-time favorite for me. More recently, the anime I'm into is called Bocchi the Rock! All of these titles are what make me [who I am] today, and I will continue to watch lots of anime!"
Inspiration can be found in every corner of life (and every realm in the METALVERSE), and that's what BABYMETAL is focusing on now.
From the things they loved and learned as teenagers that helped kick-start their creativity, to the drive and ambition that has allowed them to become such an undeniable musical sensation, to the surprising, fulfilling and far-out revelations of THE OTHER ONE — it has been a journey of discovery unlike any other.
But that doesn't mean they are slowing down. There is more ground to be covered, more secrets to share and more memories to be made. With MOMOMETAL now firmly by their side, a trio once again, there is now another set of life experiences to draw upon.
Another version of BABYMETAL — and a new way of looking at things — is ready and waiting to be discovered. The possibilities are as infinite as the stars in the sky, and it doesn't get much more exciting than that.
But it is SU-METAL who sums it up best, in five simple but powerful words.
"This is the new beginning."
BABYMETAL Translation Assistance by Tyler Mariko Mcabee