The reaction was split when Babymetal first arrived from Japan to the Western world. Some called them revolutionary, others a sad attempt to make metal seem adorable. And yet, despite the haters on the other side, Babymetal have persevered. Their debut album let audiences know that they were in on the joke; sophomore release Metal Resistance proved that they could take their genre seriously. No longer cursed to being one-hit wonders and taking over the metal world by storm, the queens of kawaii metal eye a new target with their third album: the entire universe. Metal Galaxy is the end result of their latest mission, a record proving to metal fans once again that you can bring happiness to the hardcore headbanging realm.

Taking a cue from m-flo, Metal Galaxy prepares its listeners for the chaos that's to come with the opening track "FUTURE METAL." With the aid of B'z guitarist Tak Matsumoto, the fun truly begins with "DA DA DANCE," with Su-metal and Moametal singing and rapping over dance metal riffs like nobody's business. "Elevator Girl" follows, the closest Babymetal have gotten to making a diss track. And yet, even with lyrics like, "No matter what you say or what you do/You're going do-do-do-do-do-down", you can't help but crack a smile. "Shanti Shanti Shanti" combines metal with the realm of Bollywood, crafting the most exciting mixture of Indian and Western sounds since Aerosmith's "Taste of India."

However, it's when Babymetal gets a little help from Sabaton's Joakim Brodén when Metal Galaxy shifts into ludicrous speed. The Scandinavian folk-styled "Oh! MAJINAI" is the duo's first crack at making a beer-chugging song, and Brodén's assistance not only cranks it to the max, but does so in a way that'll make anyone fear challenging Su-metal and Moametal to any sort of drinking contest in the near-future. With the aid of Polyphia guitarists Tim Henson and Scott LePage, "Brand New Day" adds a bit of Perfume's futuristic pop to the kawaii metal formula, resulting in a sound that's both uplifting and hard-hitting.

Despite their light-hearted tone, Babymetal have never been afraid to expose us to the dark side. "IN THE NAME OF" shoves the fear of the Fox God right into our eardrums, with Cannibal Corpse-styled growls and unholy ominous melodies. Alissa White-Gluz pledges her allegiance to the band with "Distortion," with Su-metal reminding even the most elite metalheads that they "can't stop the power" they're bringing. Thai rapper F.HERO delivers some gangsta vibes via "PA PA YA!!", the most party-friendly (and quite possible the coolest) song on the entire album.

Just when you think the darkness is overtaking you, Babymetal bring you back to your senses with the final triple threat of "Starlight," "Shine," and "Arkadia". These three songs are some of the band's most beautiful pieces of work yet, filled with inspirational lyrics and warmhearted beats. Ending the album with "Arkadia" seems to bookend the message of Metal Resistance opener "Age of Resistance," both of which have powerful vocals from Su-metal and insane guitar riffs. In a way, Metal Galaxy concludes with the good news that the resistance is over. While there may be a nonbeliever or two still in the midst, Metal Galaxy gives Babymetal the confidence to sit at the metal icon table with the likes of Slayer and Iron Maiden.

FINAL GRADE:

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