For some, they are the single most delightful and entertaining thing that has happened to heavy music for decades. For others, they are a despicably cynical distraction from all that is good and true in metal. Neither of these things are true, of course: BABYMETAL are not a phenomenon over which any of us should squander too much emotional energy. You either dig this crazy Fox-centric exercise in wild genre cross-pollination or you don't. And by this point — a third album that few naysayers expected to ever happen — it's only really the people who do dig BABYMETAL that should be reading a review of their new album. So, you know, off you fuck, grumpy!
Now that this is a friends-only situation, there is only good news. It makes little sense to judge a BABYMETAL album in the same way that one might assess the new SLIPKNOT or KILLSWITCH ENGAGE record: "Metal Galaxy" is not a coherent statement from a band with a singular vision. Instead, this is the latest, absurdly diverse collection of ultra-modern pop-metal hybrids, all loosely held together with more of that endearing but incomprehensible Fox God mythology, but very much collated for the age of playlists and scattershot listening habits. Thus, the album's most overtly pop moments bat their eyelashes at one potential audience, while regular flashes of glitchy extreme metal and twisted electronics raise a fist toward another. In between those two camps, pretty much anything seems possible, just as long as everything sounds like it's being fired directly into your brain by some giant flame-haired, big-eared and cybernetic Pokémon death-ray. Once again, one fan's multi-mood twinkle-core extravaganza is another's deeply harrowing pop culture nightmare, but the sheer ferocity of the delivery, the intense gleam of those radio-friendly hooks and the undeniable reality that nobody outside Japan really understands what's going on here — well, it all conspires to ensure that "Metal Galaxy" is an absolute riot. Good vibes only, as they say. Meanwhile, as with the previous two BABYMETAL records, the reality of the musicianship on display here is frequently startling: sessions virtuosos they may be, but the musicians behind these songs absolutely rip from shiny start to face-flaying finish.
For Fox-curious metalheads, there are a few neat entry points. SABATON frontman Joakim Broden channels his inner gargling troll on the swivel-eyed hell-jig of "Oh! Majina!, ARCH ENEMY's Alissa White-Gluz adds fire and fury to early preview single "Distortion" and if "Arkadia" isn't one of the best power metal songs of 2019, it's only because it also sounds like something from "Frozen" played by heavily armed, helium-huffing mecha-bots. If that sounds like your sort of thing, you may already have "Metal Galaxy" blasting on repeat anyway. My work here is done.