AN: Obligatory "long time lurker, first time poster" + "english not my first languaje" so expect some spelling mistakes and weird phrasing (i'm more than happy to make corrections is someone point the errors). If you have an aneurism reading this piece of literature please just make me know.
AN2: I accept critic with open arms, so be as brutal and strict as you want. I hope you like the story. Next
A Fist With a Kiss (1/3)
“Savarna, eventually you will have to accept one of your suitors. Someone who help you run the dojo when I retire”, said my father from the other side of the room.
The main pavilion of the Ikkim dojo was illuminated by the dim light of the dawn. The city remained silent and, at that time of the morning, only the two of us were present in the building.
My father was looking at me with a face made of stone, searching even for the slightest defect in my pose.
"I will not accept anyone that can’t beat me," I replied with faintly voice. I couldn't speak much louder given the position I was in. Palms on the ground, elbows bent and the rest of the body suspended in the air.
"Five more minutes for the tough lady… and I have to say that the first son of the Dessan dojo is very polite", my father announced, unamused.
“But he is a weakling”, I replied. “He is light-years away from besting me”.
"Your mother never lost to anyone and even so she married me", he replied with a tired smile in his face.
I had been in that position for fifteen minutes already and my arms were starting to tremble. For some reason my father was being more strict than usual.
Empty the mind, forget the pain, control the breath. Control the tension of each of the muscle fibers and hit like lightning. Such was the mikaja art that had been passed down from generation to generation by the Ikkim family.
“I know the stories. You had to sweep the floor with uncle Eru to be able to marry mom”, I said carrying the entirety of my body weight on one hand while I let the other rest for a couple of sweet seconds.
"Savarna, you make it sound like your mother was the trophy of a championship or the reward of a bet," my old man replied with a sight.
"Wasn't that so?", I asked slyly.
I knew perfectly well that it was not the case. My mother graciously gave my father an opportunity to prove his worth.
Aldara-de-Daera had been a legendary martial artist and warrior whose achievements were sang across the entirety of the planet. No male had been able to beat her in personal combat and therefore she had not been anyone's trophy.
My father had to woo her to be considered as a potential mate. Only then my mother allowed him to fight against the rest of the men of the family in order to show that his blood would strengthen the Ikkim genetic line.
"If I make it sound like a championship it's because it looked like one", my father said, standing up. He began with the story that I had been told a hundred times.
"I should have faced only the champion of the family, yet, no one wanted a journeyman who had not been raised in a dojo to marry the champion of the Ikkim clan".
The old man's voice was beginning to blaze up again. I liked to bring the theme up because when my father were telling the story he seemed ten years younger. He ceased to be the stone man and became the warm-blooded warrior again.
“I fought his seven brothers and three of his uncles! Do you think they were chivalrous enough to give me a half hour break between fights? Well no, I had to dispatch two of your great-uncles simultaneously!", he said as he paced the contours of the dojo adopting different combat positions. Some I could recognize as Ikkim art, others I could not recognize.
“A warrior without dojo defeating half of the Ikkim family? You must have cheated”, I growled under my breath loud enough for him to hear me.
That was the crux of the story. My father had never told me how he managed to win without the knowledge of a large family backing him. All I knew was that he had studied in other worlds, far from planet Mika, which was really strange. It was well known that we, the mikaja were the most prolific warriors of all the sentient races.
Throughout the years I had been reconstructing the history of his youth with the small crumbs of information I could attain. From time to time people from the stars visited the dojo. My father's old companions whom, after a drink or two, blurted out a tasty detail or two about my old man's bachelor life.
"I used my head, thing which you seem to have forgotten to do," he replied vaguely.
"How so?" I asked in a small voice. My arms were on the brink of their strength. "Did you stop the punches with your hard head?".
"Eight more minutes for the smart lady", my father said with a sly smile. “You are not going to make me confess anything. Maybe when you are older”.
Falling in the bad side of the master was not a smart idea, however, it was a small risk if I wanted to reveal the secrets of my father's hidden art. Even more, I couldn't deny that that kind of romantic stories fascinated me.
The wandering warrior who conquered the head of the family.
But that was secondary. I needed my father’s hidden art so I could surpass my mother and became a legendary warrior.
"Aren't you going to teach me how you beat half the Ikkim clan?", I asked though my voice sounded like a faint moan.
"Do not hurry to learn the arts of a race that annihilated itself," my father said cryptically before getting quiet. "Enough for today, go get ready to go to class".
On another occasion I would have graciously leaped into my feet, but this morning I was past my limit. With a sigh I collapsed on the ground and rolled onto my back. I gasped repeatedly and covered my eyes with my hand.
The pain was part of the process.
My head felt like it was about to explode. The sound of the blood pumping through my arteries echoed in my ears and I felt fire and broken glass filling my lungs.
To build you had to destroy first.
I took a deep breath, getting into contact with the involuntary processes of my body. I opened the alveoli in my lungs and took the pressure off my head. In less tha a minute I was in condition of standing up again.
“Savarna, you should came back early to the dojo after class. One of my old acquaintances will come and, only if he wants to, he could teach you a few tricks", said my father while smiling. "A small reward for enduring this old man's stories so early in the morning".
I jumped to my feet, forgetting all the pain that haunted my body, and hugged him tightly. He was a few inches shorter than me, and there were still two years to go before I reached adulthood. If I continued eating well and sleeping early I could get a foot taller than him.
We touched foreheads for a moment and I headed to the showers.
I couldn't get the prospect of training under the tutelage of a person from the stars out of my head. What strange art would he practice? Did he know the techniques my father had used to win my mother's hand?
It was like an Ancestor’s Day gift out of season.
I took off my training ogi, a dark blue cotton one-piece suit that represented my position within the Ikkim family. The successor to the main bloodline.
Unless one of my cousins decided to challenge and beat me in a duel. But that was still two years away. At the moment my father was the regent of the main dojo and he would remain attending it until I took over, hopefully, in several years.
I went to the showers, sat on a wooden bench and cleaned my body with a damp cloth and a bucket of warm water. My arms and legs were chiseled and the muscles of my abdomen were toned to perfection. Nothing less could be expected from the heiress.
A few minutes later, when I felt that I was clean enough and had stopped sweating, I went into the baths and submerged my body into the basin of cold water.
I tried to close my mind but I couldn't stop toying around with the idea of learning techniques never seen before on the dojos of my home planet. Maybe that could give me the edge I needed to become a legendary warrior like my mother.
I was happy to follow my mother's path, although, I felt that the path was getting uphill. What if I couldn't make the grade? As the daughter of Aldara-de-Daera I had to follow each and every one of her steps, and she had set the bar very high.
As the time passed I grew unease.
I got out of the cold water and dried myself the best I could to continue with my routine. I took a cotton ball out of the medicine cabinet and doused it with a few drops of alcohol. Then I brought the cotton to my nose and breathed in the scent. It served to ease my nerves.
The mikaja nose was proverbially sensitive. Some said that it was the most sensitive nose of all the races that belonged to the Volgar group.
I sighted. A small cognitive oversight had been enough to make my mind wander when there were other places I needed to be. I stuffed myself into my uniform as fast as I could; wide pants tightened at the ankle, T-shirt and jacket fitted in the waist, all in black.
Around my waist I tied the red anaki scarf, which demonstrated my rank within the students of the Garden, and I was ready.
I ran to the kitchen where my father was waiting for me with the breakfast served. Eggs, meat and uki fruits. I started swallowed, barely chewing, when my father gave me a stern look.
“Savarna, my dear, you should take things with ease”, sighted my father.
“You think that I couldn’t be as good as my mom?”, I asked accusingly.
“I’m saying that the path you chose is a hard one”, he replied. “Invariably there are going to be mishaps in the road”.
“My mother didn’t seem to bother with this ‘mishaps’ of yours”.
He opened his mouth to reply but the clock on the wall marked the beginning of the first quarter of the day. I hastily touched foreheads with my father and speed out of the house.
The city was beginning to wake up.
Dharno City was a strange place. It was the oldest city on the planet yet the most modern. The neighborhood where the Ikkim dojo was located respected the classical architecture of the mikaja, with its rounded shapes and numerous wooden pillars.
A few hundred meters away there were the government buildings and the city center, constructed with plasteel, concrete, and glass. The contrast was breathtaking and even beautiful after the initial shock.
I walked with fast step through the maze of alleys of the old city until I emerged into a big avenue. I crossed the populated street and arrived to the station just as the Garden’s bullet train reached the platform. The train was full of with students with the same black uniform that I was wearing. The rest of the people waited patiently on the sides of the platform, most of them showing some degree of deference or admiration for the students.
With a slight jerk, the train departed and the martial silence of the students broke. I detected that the younger students left enough space for me to sit but I decided to stood next to the door, looking out the window.
The train sped up and a few minutes later the city disappeared and was replaced by vast grasslands, hills, dense forests and a mountain range which arms ended near the ocean. In the distance I could see the bright sun reflection upon the sea. The city hid the true beauty of the planet Mika.
The journey went smoothly and without delay until, In the distance, the central spire of the Garden emerged. A white and metallic structure that rose above the rest of the natural formations.
A voice announced over the speakers that the doors would open on the right side of the train and, a moment later, it stopped.
Three-quarters of the student body who attended the Garden belonged to the proud race of the mikaja. There were some drekshac, the draconic species, some asima and a few okuni. The mikaja government was on good terms with the Drekshac Empire, so the exchange of students (among other things) wasn’t a rarity.
And the mikaja Gardens were the best of the best.
God created the mikaja at his image and likeness. And also the drekshac, the asima, the okuni and other ten or so races. Well, not exactly created but genetically enginered. There were no God, instead there were a now extinct advanced civilization called Precursors. The Precursors seeded the galaxy with life and guided our evolutionary paths until we attained sentience.
We, the mikaja, belonged to the Volgar group along with a other races scattered throughout the seven arms of the galaxy with whom we shared around 98% of the genetic code.
That 2% was enough for the variability between the races of the Volgar group to be immense. The drekshac had scales, the asima feathers, and the okuni and the mikaja fur (although in different degrees). We were different, yet similar. ‘Volgaroid’, for that matter.
I proceeded to abandon the platform when a little cry of surprise rose above the whispering of the students. Instinctively the hair of my mane bristle as I was put on my guard.
But nothing happened.
I approached the source of the sound to see what had happened. A beautiful okuni girl with snow-white fur had collapsed. A female green-belted mikaja was helping her, offering her water from her bottle.
"What happened?", I asked.
The mikaja who was helping looked at me with disdain, but, when her eyes stopped on my red belt, her ears tightened in surprise. The red belt was the second highest in the hierarchy of the Garden students.
"A student bumped her and showed her his fangs," the mikaja replied hastily while gently patting the poor okuni's back.
The okuni were not particularly known for their mental resilience. For this reason, the few who attended the Garden entered coms
. Jobs that would keep them away from the battlefield.
Although the girl belonged to the nervous race of okuni, it was not an unusual thing to be frightened by the fangs of a mikaja. I was confident that I would be able to rip out an adult drekshac's windpipe given that I managed to close my jaw around its neck.
"Did you see his insignia and his rank?", I asked as I knelt in front of the okuni.
She shook her head.
"He was wearing civilian clothes," she said between hiccups. "He was a Volgar race, but not one I had seen in my life… ¿Maybe an albino ladhe?".
The poor thing had been quite scared (for an okuni).
I was relieved to know that it was not my people who had caused such an embarrassing incident so early in the morning. Anyway, it was my duty to make amends for the situation; as a mikaja and heiress to the Ikkim dojo. It was a thing of honor.
I raised my head, ears pricked up on top. Among the sea of uniforms only one person was wearing civilian clothes. I pushed my way through the mass of people and grabbed him by the shoulder before he could abandon the platform.
To my surprise, my fingers closed around thin air. The stranger turned and raised his head to look into my eyes. I couldn't tell what race he belonged to because he was wearing a scarf and big dark sunglasses. It was Volgar, though, he had two arms, two legs, and walked upright.
He looked like a ladhe but his skin was too pale and hadn’t horns.
I reached out with my arm to stop him but he slipped through my fingers like he was made of smoke. If it wasn’t for his size, almost half a meter smaller than the average ulmo-drekshac, I wouldn't have been surprised if it belonged to the elusive volgar-serpent race.
"Stop", I said in a commanding tone but he took another step back.
With a lunge I managed to grab the brim of his jacket but, as if he were shedding his skin, he discard the garment and disappeared into the crowd. It was impossible for me to follow him with my eyes among the thousands of students who walked on the platform. He disappeared as he had never existed.
Defeated, I went back to the okuni, still with the jacket in my hand.
"I'll take care of the girl", I told the mikaja who was taking care of her.
She nodded and, with a respectful bow, she went on her way. I helped the girl to her feet, which was not very difficult considering that she barely reached her chest upright and wighted half of what I weighted.
We left behind the platform and entered the Garden for the main entrance, where the students scattered to attend hundreds of different classes. We took the elevator and stopped in the medical floor. There the nurse made her smell a cotton swab moistened with a substance that I did not recognize but that immediately made her recover her foot.
Just as the mikaja, the okuni had a sensible nose.
Finally, I accompanied the girl to her classroom. She was in the first year of coms
, just as I thought initially.
“Thank you for everything”, he said with a deep reverence. “My name is Alka”.
“Savarna”, I replied offering a hand that he hastily shook.
Alka entered his classroom, which was in one of the com’s
workshops, and I ran down the hall towards the gym which were in the other side of the campus. That morning, spec
had a cooperative exercise. In practice it meant sweeping the floor with the coms
students for an hour or until they could not get up again. On rare occasions, a coms
student made it to the end of the hour but wasn’t an usual thing.
We, the students of the spec
course, were used to strenuous physical work. After all, we were the ones who would become the elite troops of the Confederation army. Coms
, on the other hand, were the geeks who made sure all the electronic thingies worked properly.
Important, yes, but in the end wars were won with knifes.
I walked into the locker room, left my uniform hanging in one of the empty lockers, and put on my combat armor. The ‘armor’, though imposing, provided little to no protection. The main function was to be the support for the Alba shield; a force shield that could stop every kinetic projectile.
The armor carried a flashlight and life support, which was, in its own way, extremely useful.
I finished adjusting the forearm pieces but did not stand up. The incident in the morning had left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I thought that perhaps I had overextended myself during morning training, yet it was a fact that the stranger had slipped through my fingers with disconcerting ease.
If I wanted to become a legendary warrior like my mother things like that couldn't happen.
I knew deep down that the morning effort was just an excuse. The stranger had eluded me thanks to his own ability and my lack of preparation, which made me feel worse.
Before lowering the visor I took the stranger's jacket and sniffed the neck area, where the scent was more intense. It was an alien scent although not very different from that of a mikaja.
It was a somewhat disturbing as well. I had to remind myself that not all races were able to control the chemical signals they released into the air. Its owner was a sexually mature and healthy male.
I recorded the smell in my memory and put the garment inside my bag, thinking about solving the mystery of the bully of the train when I had the time.
I lowered the helmet visor and went out to the gym.
Thirty pairs of students of various races fought each other on one on one matches. Each coms
student paired with a spec
student. I bowed my head in front of the coach, a six-foot-tall mikaja. She just pointed at the makeshift battlefield.
One of the squares marked on the floor was unoccupied.
I didn't like to admit it but my red belt and the Ikkim dojo name gave me a lot of royalties that my fellow specs
didn't enjoy. One of them was the flexibility of schedules. Not that I abused it, but it was a convenient perk.
At the edge of the gym, upon one of the metal cubes that served to simulate the environments, stood a lonely coms
student. White belt, the lowest of the ranks, dangling its feet absent-mindedly. It was wearing the visor down so I couldn't figure out what race it was.
For his height and build, he looked like and okuni or a male mikaja.
I wondered if the poor dude had somehow pissed off the coach so it had been paired up with me. That was most likely the case. Even against other spec
students my record was perfect. I had never lost a single point in sparring. Just like my mother.
"Shall we start?", I asked in the friendliest voice I could adopt. I didn't want to scare off a white rank coms
who had probably never been in a fight.
He (or she, it was hard to notice the difference between a male and a female okuni under the combat armor) jumped down from the metallic cube. It was a head shorter than me, just like my father.
“Don't you want to warm up first? For injuries and stuff?”, it said in a tempered cello voice. I knew that under the armor there was a male although I could not place his accent.
I nodded. He was right, preventing was easier than healing an injury. Although the sparring itself was likely to be light enough to be considered a warm-up, I didn't mean to sound ungrateful.
I ran a couple of laps around the gym and did some joint mobility before entering the ‘ring’. The cold water bath had worked miracles on my exhausted arms. Unfortunately for my partner I felt light and ready to fight.
When I returned to the starting point I found the coms
dude stretching arms and legs within our combat area. I saluted before entering the framed square, as dictated by the dojo's etiquette, and looked at the giant screen that hung from the furthest wall.
Most of the specs
kept their loss counter at zero. A couple had dropped a point or two. There were races that had natural unfavorable match-ups. For example, even a spec
okuni might have some difficulty defeating a specially bulky coms
drekshac. The mere difference in physical span was a major factor in hand-to-hand combat.
I looked around. The coms
students seemed exhausted in general. I could almost smell their pain.
"Hand to hand fight with points," said my coms
partner as if I had not realized what was happening inside the gym.
"Are you familiar with it?", I asked trying to sound polite before giving him a practical masterclass in unarmed fighting.
"Well… basically, you have to knock down your opponent with enough force. The points are determined automatically by the system", he replied plainly as he shrugged.
didn't seemed to have the slightest idea what was coming for him. Yet he was correct. I could have listed all the ways to earn points, but in practice the automated system took care of everything.
I looked once more at the screen. There was a big zero floating next to my name. If I managed to keep it that way until my graduation I would have carried out the feat that only my mother had accomplished before.
"Shall we start?".
My sparring partner nodded and stepped into the middle of the ring. I greeted, Ikkim dojo style, and he responded with a greeting of his own. The greeting of his race’s warriors perhaps? At least he knew some combat etiquette. I thought that that coms
might learn a thing or two while he took the beating of his life.
I remembered that I had to restrain myself to not injure him.
Letting them come hard before I knocked them down was always fun. It was, I have to admit, one of my guilty pleasures. At least I could pass it off as an educational situation.
My partner watched me without even adopting a defensive position. He didn’t seemed specially athletic. I got on my guard and started doing some footwork. Usually that was enough to make them come to me.
My partner, on the other hand, kept his distance. I did not knew how to make sense of his movements. Was he doubtful or was he scared? The spec
badge and my red belt should have been enough to let him know my fighting level. Unless he didn’t knew about belts and badges. But that was his problem.
Finally, after a long minute of staring, my partner reunite the courage for stepping forward.
He stepped into my range and grabbed me by the edge of my breastplate. I reciprocated the gesture, trying to keep it at a safe distance. He naively tried to pressure me, probably wanting to get me out of the ring using sheer force, but I took a step back with the idea of taking him out of his center of gravity and sending him to the mat.
I tugged on, grabbing the edge of his armor. The next second I was lying face down on the gym floor.
The grunting and whispering of the other matches quickly died away as all the students stared at me lying on the floor. The queen had fallen.
I raised my head and looked up at the marker.
It was not the first time that I had fell to the canvas. There were times when the trainer would bring experienced soldiers undercover to spar with us. Only the points obtained by other students counted towards the scoreboard.
I blinked repeatedly, and from one moment to the next, the score changed. Where there should have been a zero, there was now a one. The murmurs rose in the gym as I got back to my feet.
What had happened? I couldn't pinpoint when I'd lost my footing.
I got up and nodded to continue with the exercise. I was still confused.
My partner came towards me for the second time. He grabbed the chestplate with one hand and with the other the plate of my biceps once again. Then he tried to push me with his right shoulder. I stepped back to contain the momentum, however, this time my partner slipped his right leg between mine, bent my knee, and sent me back to the mat.
I fell backwards.
This time he didn't stop there. He rolled, sat up and pinned me by crossing one arm across my torso. I tried to free myself from the grip but my partner didn't budge. He had me firmly glued to the floor.
I reluctantly patted him on the shoulder, announcing my surrender. Without extending his grip a second longer than necessary, he released me and stood up. I couldn’t read his face beneath the visor of the helmet.
Whispers began to spread through the gym. I tried to close my mind but couldn't make it, I was puzzled, disoriented. And hurt.
I had suddenly realized that my dream was slipping through my hands.
At what point had I neglected my training? Hadn't I carefully followed my mother's footsteps? When had I lost her way?
And more important. Who was my rival?
He was practically playing with my body. It was a weird dance and he controlled the tempo and the rhythm.
I looked at the coach for an answer but she was as surprised as the rest of my classmates.
I came to my senses when my partner grabbed me by the breastplate of the armor for the third time, inserting his fingers between the chest plate and the shoulder plate. He attempted the same takedown as before, pulling his shoulder close to my chest and trying to knock me off balance with his foot. This time I was ready and I changed my foothold. But, ss fast as the first time, he slipped his left leg this time around my right leg.
I lose my balance and ended lying down on my back for the third time that day. This time I tried to get out of the hold with all my strenght, but he had complete control over my body. I tap his shoulder again in defeat.
The counter that should be zero was now showing an embarrassing number three.
We returned to the starting position without saying a word. The gym was in the most complete silence. It appeared that there were only the two of us.
My partner came close for another hold but this time I stepped back and reached out with my fist to let him know how far away he had to stay if he didn't want to get punched.
He shifted his guard and approached tentatively.
I threw two jabs that he managed to dodge without too much trouble and, in a blink of an eye, he sneaked into my guard. I threw an upward knee that didn't hit him but graze his defense with considerable force. It took me only one hit to notice the build of his body, he was not as dense as a drekshac. Not even as a mikaja. On the contrary, he seemed light as an okuni.
How had he managed to knock me down three times in a row?
I threw a high kick that he managed to stop with a bit of effort. I threw another kick, putting even more force behind it, and almost hit the visor of the helmet. I noticed that my rival grew more cautious as he tested my strength and my speed.
I closed the distance that separated us, looking for a gap in his defense to sneak a forceful blow. I threw a triple combination and, for a moment, I saw an opening. Without hesitation I threw a hook directly against his abdomen. He tried to block with his elbows but didn't quite succeed.
My partner staggered and backed away. It was my signal to push. I put the weight of my body behind my fist and lunged forward. I didn’t realize that everything was a performance of my rival to make me lower my guard.
Quick as lightning he dodged the blow and entered my zone of control. He retract his fist to punch with all his force. I stiffen the muscles of my stomach to receive the blow but just a second before the impact the bell rang.
My opponent fell back without connecting the blow. He stood at the edge of the ring, bowed, and, without saying anything, disappeared behind the dressing room door.
Confused, I raised my head and looked at the scoreboard. Three to one against me. If the bell had rung an instant later, the blow should have sent me to the floor. Five to one was a more precise score. He had let me connect a blow.
As walking in a dream I staggered to the edge of the ring, greeted an invisible rival, and left to the showers under the gaze of my teammates.
The queen of the Garden had fallen from her altar.
(蒼星) + Su-metal Special
A feature of the original Babymetal
album continued in Metal Resistance
is the appearance of solo tracks, both for Su-Metal and the duo of Black Babymetal. The first instance of this on MR is the Su-Metal fronted Amore.
Amore is a bright, fun track that has a joyous sounding vocal melody with definite J-Pop and 80's metal influences. Sonically the track borrows much from it's 80's metal forefathers with fast, shredding guitars and pounding, running drums. Chords ring out and are then chased with shredded progressions before being triumphantly brung full circle with furious finger worked solo moments. There are so many little flares in Amore that takes multiple listens to appreciate everything it has to offer.
Vocally as well, Amore pulls together many highlights with Su-metal sounding on top form in a range perfectly suited for her. The production on Amore is some of the best on the album with Su layered warmly with both double tracking and harmonies which make her voice full and smooth. The choices of these points are also beautifully done. She is left solo at just the right times to ensure you fully appreciate the points they boost her vocally with her own harmonies. It is in my mind the vocal highlight of the album, even if not my favourite song.
Structurally the song has some nice touches as well. Part way through we are given a delicate bass solo before the guitar solo kicks in. It makes the song swell and flex, adding a epicness that plays beautifully live. At Wembley the point where the song dropped down completely, Su-metal plummeting to her knees before the spotlight kicked in on her for a vocal lead was a joy (even though many in the crowd clearly thought the song had ended, something purely down to it at that time still being an unknown quantity).
Lyrically Amore continues similar themes from Akatsuki
on debut Babymetal
, with longing and love the words of the day. Where Akatsuki
takes a darker, more lonesome tone focusing on the devastating effects of lost love, Amore finds Su-Metal in a much brighter place. We find Su-Metal defiantly calling out "If I lose sight of you, the voice of my heart keeps singing" whereas in Akatsuki
you had phrases like "until my body perishes, until my life disappears, I shall keep on cherishing this love." Similar sentiments expressed with polar opposite imagery.
This is further evidence of the fun I've highlighted on Metal Resistance a number of times now. Babymetal are a band loving every moment of their rise and this is reflected in their music, their performances and their interviews. Everything is positive, everything is with an air of invincibility. The debut album was a collection of songs exploring an idea, MR is an album of songs bathing in the glow of an idea realised. That said, it doesn't just rest on its laurels, avoiding complacency by pushing into new territory with skill and confidence.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the development of Babymetal's jewel in their crown, Su-Metal. Personal preferences aside, it cannot be argued that Suzuka Nakamoto is a key component in the success of the group. The special presence and vocal quality recognised years ago by Kobametal was the genesis and platform which has allowed the group to explode into the world arena. While there is no doubt that Yui, Moa and The Kami band are important parts of the group, it is without a hint of remorse I say that without Su-Metal, there is no Babymetal.
The recent interview with Su in Rockin' On
provided a valuable insight into Babymetal's vocal powerhouse. It highlights how the band are now approaching performing with a new sense of fun, a sense of enjoying things more having previously let the pressure to perform to a certain standard dictate their approach. Su-metal talks in more depth about the feeling she has discovered new sides to herself in performing with the band, something she hinted at in her Tower Records Sakura Gakuin graduation interview
Interviews such as this one are vital to those who view Babymetal as a fake, manufactured monster in seeing the deeper sense of the performers behind the kitsune masks. Metal as a genre can be so focused on the aura of authenticity that it sometimes loses the fun and motivation that I've also felt was one of it's greatest strengths. Su-metal talks about this when highlighting that listening to metal is different to listening to other genre's saying "When you listen to Metal it is not a listening that takes place with your ears, but is rather something that enters your heart and mind and strikes you emotionally."
Now depending on your point of view this can be rue of any music but for someone who had been rooted in the deeply pop world of the idol scene, Suzuka Nakamoto appears to be the one who has gained most from her exposure and development in the hard rock world. She speaks of a "monster existing in my heart and mind" that she has let loose and let grow when on stage. As someone who has performed and gigged over the past 10-15 years I can identify fully with the feeling of being emboldened by music when performing. There is a confidence and power that can come from performing powerful, fun music and Su-Metal has embodied this increasingly over the past year.
With their idol roots and that industries penchant for recycling performers there has been a near constantly repetitive level of speculation that with each milestone Babymetal reach, that it might be their last. Within the last week there was a post prospecting the Tokyo Dome as the next such point. As fans we can take heart that if the business benefits weren't enough for Amuse to plough ahead with Babymetal (which they certainly are) then it would seem that Su-Metal herself is in no mood for stopping saying "I worry have gotten to a place where I am not able to stop doing this".
I proposed in my previous series that I felt Yuimetal may be the one least inclined to want to continue, however even she appears to have been enraptured by the release of the new album and it's reception. Her presence and input in promotional material and interviews has been significantly boosted on the MR world tour thus far. I'm happy to say I feel like I've been seeing more of Yui's younger enthusiasm from her Sakura Gakuin days and that all things considered, the future of the band seem bright.
A real student of her craft, Su-Metal talks about learning from each show from country to country about the different ways crowds react and how she adapts her performance to account for this. We've seen these changes especially in overseas gigs where (almost certainly with the blessing of Kobametal) she has become less idol singer and more front woman, interacting more with the crowd, encouraging them to sing along and adapting the songs to include more interactive sections (such as the recent Philadelphia show with Karate
sing along section).
Su-metal speaks at various parts of this interview with a growing maturity about the level at which she has personally found herself delving into the fictional world in which they have created. The feeling of strength and pull that she says the 'Fox God' exerts when on stage mirrors what many metal stars have said over the years about the power off the genre. She touches on the sheer feel good factor of the crowd when they do the Road of Resistance
sing along and how she will sometimes selfishly string this out because of how good it feels. These are not the words of a corporate puppet but off someone completely wrapped up, invested in and empowered by the music they perform.
In order to be invested in a performance a singer needs to be able to identify with what they are performing. For a 16 - 18 year old it's easy to identify with a want for chocolate or the fun of bubble gum time machine but more importantly Su talks about developing an understanding for the deeper side of Babymetal in songs like No Rain, No Rainbow
. This emotional growth can only serve to bolster Babymetal's canvas as the writers can tackle increasingly broad subjects as they move forward.
The point most encouraging of all is when Su begins to talk about her approach to live shows moving from focusing on technical proficiency to the emotional spectrum of the songs and their connection to the fans. She talks about opening her heart and mind to the songs and to the fans and how this is now the most important aspect of her performance. Su-Metal is no longer a young girl thrust into the limelight by the circumstance of a niche band grabbing headlines, she is a performer of depth and consideration. Her performances have become more nuanced as the many GIFs of her attest as she moves from the biggest smiles to the darkest stares as she inhabits the songs Babymetal performs.
The interview ends with Su reflecting on the shortening distance between herself and the character of Su-Metal. All three girls have come a long way from the caricatures they once were. There was a creditability to those who argued their manufactured nature was a fatal flaw as, to begin with, there was a stilted nature to them. I have debated before however that given their age this was always going to be the case and it was the reason I let it all slide. Now however the girls have grown into the realm they find themselves in. The characters and the people are becoming one and the same and they are no longer metal pretenders. Su-Metal and Suzuka Nakamoto are now separated by name alone, something she highlights at the end of the interview which I feel will be the great strength of the band going forward.
Brevity has never been my strong point but as I bring this Su-Metal special to a close I invite you all to consider your own journey's. One of the great strengths of music is how it can mean many things to many people. We each see reflections of ourselves in the mirrors of the albums we listen to and the it would seem that for now, Su-Metal is enjoying the reflection she is beginning to see. We should all be so lucky.
Thanks once again for reading another issue of the Resistance Review Series! I realise this was a bit of a long one so thanks for making it all this way! Please share your thoughts below on Amore or the continuing growth of Su-Metal. As always I'm eager to hear your thoughts :)
Next week we look at Viking folk madness in Meta Taro!
Until then... See You!
Resistance Review Series:
Part 1 First Wembley, Now The World
Part 2 - Awadama Fever
Part 3 - Yava!
05/06/16 - Part 5 - Meta Taro
12/06/16 - Part 6 - From Dusk Till Dawn
19/06/16 - Part 7 - Syncopation
26/06/16 - Part 8 - GJ!
03/07/16 - Part 9 - Sis Anger
10/07/16 - Part 10 - No Rain, No Rainbow
17/07/16 - Part 11 - Tales of the Destinies
24/07/16 - Part 12 - The One (All Versions)
Wembley Celebration Series:
Part 1 Babymetal Birth, Babymetal Death
Part 2 Megitsune
Part 3 Gimmie Chocolate
Part 4 iine!
Part 5 Akatsuki
Part 6 Doki Doki Morning
Part 7 Onedari Daisakusen
Part 8 Song 4
Part 9 Uki Uki Midnight
Part 10 Catch Me If You Can
Part 11 Rondo of Nightmare
Part 12 Headbangya
Part 13 Ijime, Dame, Zettai
Part 14 Road of Resistance
Bonus Karate Special