EXODUS's GARY HOLT Defends BABYMETAL Against Criticism From Metal Purists

June 20, 2020

EXODUS guitarist Gary Holt has defended BABYMETAL against the "gimmick" tag given to them by critics.

Established in 2010, BABYMETAL is the offshoot of the Japanese pop idol group SAKURA GAKUIN that performs a distinctly Japanese mix of schoolgirl J-pop and heavy metal.

BABYMETAL's members — Suzuka Nakamoto (a.k.a. Su-Metal, who handles vocals and dancing) and Moa Kikuchi (a.k.a. Moametal, who screams and dances) — admit that they had never listened to metal before joining the group. The girls wear gothy schoolgirl costumes, do choreographed dance routines and bang their heads violently.

Many heavy metal fans have been reluctant to embrace BABYMETAL — which also includes producer Kobametal and a backing band of corpse-painted virtuosos — with some Internet forums calling them "the definition of a gimmick", "awful" and "metal for hipsters."

Holt offered his views on BABYMETAL during a June 17 question-and-answer session on the Marshall Amplification Instagram. Asked for his opinion of the Japanese outfit, he said (see video below): "Why not? People wanna talk shit? They're out there. They have more energy than a lot of metal bands that don't like 'em. And if it turns a bunch of kids into metalheads, then all the better, right?"

A few years ago, Jeff Walker of British extreme metal pioneers CARCASS said that he was "starting to warm to the idea" of what BABYMETAL is doing. "It's actually fun, you know — like GHOST, to be honest," he said. "Some people get very reactionary about a band like GHOST or BABYMETAL. It puts a smile on people's faces. That's what music's about, isn't it?! Enjoying it and not being so serious." CARCASS guitarist Bill Steer added: "I mean, obviously, we don't cover this ourselves, but the fun, entertainment angle [in music], it is important."

GHOST frontman Tobias Forge was also quick to defend BABYMETAL, telling TeamRock: "They obviously attract so much attention wherever they go, and for a reason, of course — they are bizarre in many ways. I mean, we obviously like bizarre, so they are obviously doing something right… They seem to be a cool band, I guess. I've seen their 'Gimme Chocolate!' video, and I don't really know what to say about it. Someone really knows what they're doing behind it, but I'm not sure if [the girls] themselves know what they're doing."

In 2017, KORN frontman Jonathan Davis told Germany's MusikExpress, about BABYMETAL: "I dig BABYMETAL. It's just wrong on every level. It's just entertaining as hell. The whole Asian pop mixed with metal and the dance they do, it's just… I mean, how can you not be entertained watching that? It's the whole vibe, just the whole thing — it's not necessarily the music or the girls themselves or what you're looking at. It's the whole package, it's the whole thing."

He continued: "When I first heard them, I was, like, 'Oh, this is amazing!' 'Cause I like things that are different and go against the grain. And everyone was flipping the hell out, freaking out about it — hatin' it or lovin' it. It was one way or the other — you either love or hate it. I thought I'd seen it all, but after I saw them, [I was], like, 'Wow! This is pretty intense.'"

Asked if he can understand why some people believe that BABYMETAL is destroying music, Davis responded: "It's just closed-minded people. I mean, from both sides of it — there's purist metal people that are just pure about their music and want this, and it's gotta be a certain way. And then there's the other people that just… It's music, and if you dig it, you dig it. Who cares? It's not that big of a deal to like something like that. Calm down."

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