Genre Course: Kawaii Metal

Stylistic Origins:

  • Heavy Metal
  • J-Pop
  • Power Metal
  • Industrial Metal
  • Melodic Death Metal

Sub-Genre:

  • Kawaii Death

Not to be confused with:

  • Visual Kei

Background

Origin:

Evolving out of the Japanese Idol scene (a scene of manufactured J-Pop groups set up by record labels and talent agencies, commonly consisting of young, cute girls, made out to be seen as role-models for girls [bands in this scene include AKB48, Sakura Gakuin, Perfume, Nogizaka46 and ℃-ute]), and since existing primarily in its country of origin, the Kawaii Metal genre came to mainstream attention after the release of Sakura Gakuin sub-unit BABYMETAL‘s first single titled Doki Doki Morning in 2010.

(It should be noted that Proto-Kawaii Metal/Kawaii Death bands have existed before Babymetal, however what is thought to be the definitive style was set in place by the Sakura Gakuin sub-unit.)

Style:

Kawaii Metal commonly builds upon attributes of Power Metal and incorporating a cute Idol look (and sometimes vocals), electronics reminiscent of Industrial Metal and occasional Melodic Death Metal and/or Post-Hardcore screams and use of Japanese Folk instruments.

Lvl 1: BABYMETAL

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Formed in 2010 as a sub-unit of Japanese Idol group Sakura Gakuin, Suzuka Nakamoto (ex-Karen Girls), Moa Kikuchi and Yui Mizuno, were chosen by Kei Kobayashi to start the Heavy Music Club. Releasing their first song; Doki Doki Morning; on Sakura Gakuin’s debut and 2010 nendo release Message. The ten and tweleve year olds then recorded a music video for Doki Doki Morning, incorporating a fake band playing the instrumental titled Babybone.

8KZRirM(Babymetal’s original costumes.)

Leading up to the release of Sakura Gakuin’s 2011 release Friends, the Heavy Metal Club released a joint single with Kiba of Akiba title Iine (translating to “So Good” in Japanese). It was obvious now that Babymetal were blurring the lines between genres, and would continue to due so, their blend of Heavy Metal and J-Pop on Doki Doki Morning was revolutionary at the time. And this was expanded upon even further in Iine, which blended elements of EDM, Hip-Hop, J-Pop and Death Metal.

The now Thirteen (as the single was released on the birthday of the youngest member, Moa Kikuchi) and Fourteen year olds released their third single in 2012, titled Head Bangya!! on Sakura Gakuin’s album My Generation. At this point the band’s style began to be established, as Head Bangya incorporated elements of  Power Metal, Melodic Death Metal and Industrial Metal, laying the ground work for later Kawaii Metal and Kawaii Death groups.

However as Sakura Gaukin was suppose to be based off of a middle school, when girls turn fifteen they unfortunately must graduate. This was the problem Babymetal fans faced in 2013, their beloved lead singer Suzuka Nakamoto was on The Road to Graduation and they were not sure whether Babymetal would be able to continue. However prior to her graduation, Babymetal released what was believe to be their final song,titled Ijime, Dame, Zettai.

Ijime, Dame, Zettai was an anti-bullying song, based off of a letter the girls received from a fan about the hardships she faced from bullying, however could cope because Babymetal’s music helped her through it. The song was a basic Power  Metal track, including Nakamoto’s soaring vocals and Kikuchi and Mizuno’s adorable gang chants.

Nakamoto’s graduation took place on March 31st 2013 in which her and Mariri Sugimoto, bid farewell to the remaining members of Sakura Gakuin (including Kikuchi and Mizuno).

9bf0db1902bea288b6e32f3b068a6533(Sakura Gakuin ex-members Marina Horiuchi, Hana Taguchi, Yunano Notsu, Saki Ooga, Nene Sugisaki and Raura Lida and Maboroshi Love member/Karen Girls ex-member Yuika Shima back stage at a Babymetal concert)

However, on June 19th 2013 fans were ecstatic to find the release of Babymetal’s fifth single Megitsune. Their first release featuring their backing band the Kami Band, was a female empowerment song, fusing elements of japanese Folk Metal, Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal.

3edd8475e655705fa3c3c698eb8041a9(Sakura Gakuin members Aiko Yamaide, Megumi Okada and Sara Kurashima and ex-members Ayami Muto and Saki Shirai back stage at a Babymetal concert)

BABYMETAL

Babymetal released their self-titled debut in early 2014, including all five of their previous singles and eight other tracks including Gimme Chocolate, Onedari Daisakusen (a Nu Meta song in the style of Limp Bizkit with a title translating to “Begging Operation”), Song 4 (lyrics and music written by Kikuchi and Mizuno) and BABYMETAL DEATH (a Blackened Death Metal track featuring very little vocals from Nakamoto, Kikuchi and Mizuno instead being replaced by producer Yuyoyuppe‘s screams).

CkRv-G-WYAAiIIG(Babymetal and The Kami Band with Abbath)

METAL RESISTANCE

The Band began playing Road of Resistance in late 2014, a collaboration with guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman of British Power Metal band Dragonforce, and then on February 1st 2015, the song was released as a live single.

Just as Nakamoto had to graduate in 2013, as did Kikuchi and Mizuno. On March 29 2015 Kikuchi and Mizuno also bid farewell to the remaining members of Sukura Gakuin and took up Babymetal full time.

In January 2016 Babymetal announced that their second studio album would be titled METAL RESISTANCE and that it would be released on April 1st (now dubbed Fox Day).

The album’s lead single (entitled Karate) was released on March 17th 2016, the song was reminiscent of Groove Metal infused Metalcore  (similar to the style used by Killswitch Engage or Lamb of God), however incorporated the signature hook-filled J-Pop, choruses Babymetal have become famous for.

etB0GFs - Copy (2)(Babymetal with Lamb of God)

METAL RESISTANCE’s promotional single entitled The One was released on March 26th 2016 (5 days prior to the release of METAL RESISTANCE) and boasted Progressive Metal influences similar to that of music by Dream Theater, and had two versions released, a version only on the Japanese release in Japanese and on the World-Wide release a version was recorded with completely English lyrics.

METAL RESISTANCE was finally release on April 1st 2016 and included previously released tracks Road of Resistance, Karate and The One, songs previously only played live like Nakamoto’s solo ballad No Rain, No Rainbow and completely new songs like (spiritual successor to Gimme Chocolate) Awadama Fever, Kawaii infused Blackened Death Metal track Sis. Anger, Syncopation (reminiscent of Japanese Alternative Rock bands like Alice Nine however heavier) and Meta Taro (a Melodic Death Metal/Viking Metal song reminiscent of what Amon Amarth would sound like if they made a national anthem filled with clean vocals).

CkQQGecXAAAvCI9(Babymetal with Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth)

Lvl 2: Ladybaby, Doll$Boxx, Passcode

Ladybaby

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Formed by Australian cross-dressing wrestler Richard Magarey and idols Rei Kuromiya and Rie Kaneko, Ladybaby mix Kawaii Metal and Kawaii Death. With three EPs under their belt, Kuromiya and Kaneko create the usual J-Pop and Industrial Metal influenced Power Metal style that has become the norm in Kawaii Metal while Mangarey uses his Melodic Death Metal inspired unclean vocals to differentiate the band from the rest of the crowd.

Doll$Boxx

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Japanese super-group Doll$Boxx was formed in 2012 by Light Bringer and Unlucky Morpheus lead singer Tenge Fuyuki, BLiStar bassist Michiko Koga, Garcharic Spin guitarist Tomoko Midorikawa, Gacharic Spin/Ex-US phoria keyboardist Reona Suzuki and AMERIA/The Spade 13 bassist, 12 Hitoe guitarist and Heian/Gacharic Spin drummer Hana Sano. Doll$Boxx usually fuse Industrial MetalJ-Pop and Post-Hardcore with Power Metal.

Passcode

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Formed in 2013, the four piece girl group was originally formed by Noa Minami and Yuri Kurohara before recruiting Yuna Imada and Kaede Takashima in 2014. Additionally, 2015 brought the departure of Kurohara and the recruitment of Hinako Ogami.  Releasing their debut studio album All Is Vanity in 2014, Passcode merge elements of J-Pop, EDM and Electronica with Post-Hardcore and Metalcore to create a frantic form of Kawaii Metal that jumps from chugging breakdowns and EDM instrumentals to break neck pace palm muted verses (reminiscent of Melodic Hardcore Punk band Pennywise) and auto tuned choruses in a matter of seconds.

Lvl 3: Kawaii Death

Kawaii Death refers to when Kawaii Metal bands incorporate elements of Death Metal/Melodic Death Metal, DeathcoreBlack Metal or Post-Hardcore into their sound. Bands like DAZZLE VISIONBlood Stain Child and exist†trace pioneered a proto-Kawaii Death sound in the late 2000s.

Proto-Kawaii Death

DAZZLE VISION were a Japanese band that infused elements of Post-Hardcore and J-Pop into their Alternative Metal sound, beginning in 2003, formed by brother and sister Takuro and Maiko Hakaine  who took up bass and vocals respectively with friends Natu on drums and Tan on guitar. Releasing their first EP entitled Origin of Dazzle, their sound began as anything but cute. This EP consisted of lo-fi Alternative Metal, which would soon be replaced by their iconicly clean yet hate filled sound on their later albums.

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exist†trace were a Japanese Melodic Death Metal formed in 2003, who cultivated a cute/visual kei aesthetic while harboring a brutal Metalcore inspired Melodic Death Metal sound. However they have since substituted this sound for an Indie Rock inspired Alternative Rock sound.

exist_trace_by_zerofan21

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