Home Music A beginner’s guide to Kawaii metal

A beginner’s guide to Kawaii metal

by Elisa Barbier March 14, 2017 3 comments

An introduction to what may be your next cardio workout playlist

A fresh wave of metal, known as Kawaii metal, began its musical journey seven years ago in Japan. This new subgenre of metal had no difficulty finding its own spot in the music world. Its style has brought something unseen to the metal scene—a uniqueness that gathers fans of varied metal genres and subgenres to mosh.

Kawaii metal is defined as a combination of Japanese pop, power metal and thrash metal. The power metal aesthetic in Kawaii metal brings an upbeat melody with clean, soft and usually high-pitched vocals. The trash metal element, on the other hand, adds complex instrumentals and aggressiveness with deep vocals and screams. Both sub-genres fuse double-bass drumming and complex guitar riffs to form Kawaii metal. The final sound component of Kawaii metal is an energetic and unique melody which combines soft and deep vocals. This sub-genre differs from the male-dominated metal scene as it uniquely introduces feminine voices to the world of heavy rock.

Kawaii metal lyrics tend to differ from the typical, overly-covered topics in metal. The bands prefer to convey empowering and positive lyrics focusing on love rather than death, on life’s pleasure rather than pain, and on social problems rather than murder. One aspect specific to this sub-genre is its mandatory Japanese aesthetic. Kawaii metal singers wear cute, girly school or maid uniforms during their performances. The band’s choice of attire helps the band members develop their stage characters, which makes Kawaii metal performances unique to each band.

One of the most well-known Kawaii metal groups is BABYMETAL. This band is composed of three singers and four musicians who are the centre of attention when it comes to Kawaii metal. When the group was formed in 2010, the lead singer—nicknamed Su-metal—was just 13 years old, and the two other singers, Moametal and Yuimetal, were only 11, according to news website Inverse.

The group developed a goth Lolita look with a concept centered on the uniqueness of their music. This concept is based on the “entity” invented by the band, the Fox God. The Fox God is a spirit—nor human, nor animal. According to the band, the Fox God selected the girls of BABYMETAL to be part of the group because they had no prior knowledge of metal, making them perfect in the eyes of the Fox God. As a rule held by the Fox God, BABYMETAL is never to reveal their future plans to the media or answer any questions regarding new projects—instead, in interviews, they simply say: “only the Fox God knows.” During the summer of 2014, BABYMETAL embarked on a world tour.  This has helped Kawaii metal pierce through to the international music scene. Since 2014, the band has won 23 music awards.

Not all listeners accept this style of metal as innovative. In fact, some metal fans don’t consider the genre to be representative of the spirit of metal as it appears as a musical act or pop show. Some Kawaii metal groups, including BABYMETAL, have made it their goal to truly differentiate themselves from the pop music industry and instead represent the metal community as best as they can. Recently, BABYMETAL has had the honour of opening for Lady Gaga, Metallica, Guns ‘n’ Roses and, currently, Korn and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ on both of their U.S. tours. BABYMETAL also wrote and played the song “Road of Resistance” with DragonForce, according to BABYMETAL’s website.

BABYMETAL’s Japanese tones and exciting guitar riffs attract many curious listeners and Japanese bands to follow suit. Notable Kawaii metal groups at the moment are Doll$Boxx, BAND-MAID and LadyBaby. To stay true to the Japanese-pop aspect of Kawaii metal, all of the abovementioned bands have a specific concept and theme to attract and develop a specific target audience. Kawaii metal is a great go-to genre to get your body moving if you’re looking for motivation to study, exercise or do chores. For those who wish to explore Kawaii metal further, Twitter is a good place to start, as you’ll find an active community sharing new groups and songs.

Explore Kawaii Metal

BABYMETAL:

from BabyMetal:

  • Megitsune
  • Ijime, Dame, Zettai
  • Headbanger
  • Catch me if you can

from Metal Resistance:

  • Karate
  • Road of Resistance
  • Awadama Fever

LadyBaby:

singles:

  • Nippon Manju
  • Age Age Money
  • C’est si bon Kibun

Doll$Boxx:

from Dolls Apartment:

  • Monopoly
  • Take my Chance

BAND-MAID:

from New Beginning:

  • Thrill
  • Don’t let me Down

from Brand New Maid:

  • Don’t You Tell ME

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  • SudoMaasaKiss

    I believe babymetal was formed in 2010 (not 2013) as a subunit of the jpop group sakura gakuin

    • Elisa

      This is an editing typo. Thank you for pointing it out. It will be corrected soon.

  • Great article!! Love Babymetal, and they refresh a genre how is the Metal…