2016's Metal Resistance saw the kawaii idol metal troupe embrace the darkness and dial back some of the more radio-friendly J-pop aspects of their sound. The confectioner's touch that made their eponymous debut so alluring was still there, but the overall effect was more punishing than grin-inducing. Metal Galaxy, the band's third full-length effort, aims to remedy that. The 14-track set commences with the fragmented "Future Metal," an overture of sorts that suggests Babymetal are taking the road less traveled this time around, when in actuality, the idea of globe-trotting plays a large part in the overall proceedings. Inspired by the myriad people, places, and sounds that the group encountered on their worldwide tour in support of Metal Resistance, Metal Galaxy traffics in a host of genres and new sonic predilections, from EDM bangers ("Da Da Dance") and Bollywood-style rave-ups ("Shanti Shanti Shanti") to jazz-inflected mainstream pop ("Elevator Girl") and Viking oom-pah folk-metal ("Oh! Majina"). The latter track, which features Joakim Brodén from Swedish power metallers Sabaton, is one of four cuts that enlist outside help. Thai rapper F. Hero's gruff delivery brings added heft to the already muscular and mosh-pit-ready "Pa Pa Ya!," Polyphia guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage administer some heroic riffage to the shiny cosmopolitan "Brand New Day," and Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz lends her formidable pipes to the relentless and aptly named "Distortion." This is Babymetal's first studio album since the departure of Yui Mizuno (aka Yuimetal), who left the group in 2018 due to health problems, but Su-metal and Moametal sound energized and confidant as a duo. Metal Galaxy tweaks the recipe just enough to feel fresh while maintaining the meticulous attention to detail and decibels that have made the group such an unlikely international success.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger