VUKOVI reveal new single ahead of this month’s shows with BABYMETAL
VUKOVI are set to support BABYMETAL in the UK later this month – and they’ll be bringing a killer new single along with ’em…
The Fox God awakes.
“Together with all 10 episodes of METAL RESISTANCE coming to a close, the 10-year legend will be sealed from the world,” it read. “Until that seal is broken, BABYMETAL will disappear from our sight. Time is running out. There is no eternity in God’s descent.”
The following day, a similarly is-it-isn’t-it dispatch came from the band, declaring that, “The three metal spirits that have been shining since 2010, even if they were to leave Earth, would continue to shine forever in our hearts and across the Metal Galaxy. A legend turns into a myth which turns into a Living Legend…”
Predictably, one deity and one deity alone had even the slightest knowledge of the next piece of the puzzle. And he wasn’t in the mood to cough to it in a hurry. “What lies ahead beyond the end of the stairway to becoming a Living Legend is something only the Fox God knows.”
Certainly, this walked and quacked like a final transmission, and BABYMETAL had sailed off to become part of the aether of their Metal Galaxy. With third member YUIMETAL having left the band in 2018 due to health issues, SU-METAL and MOAMETAL had released the following year’s METAL GALAXY album as a duo. At the start of 2021, they’d done a staggering run of shows at Tokyo’s legendary Nippon Budokan to (belatedly, thanks to COVID) mark their 10th anniversary. As a full-stop, it wasn’t exactly coming in the middle of a sentence.
‘Sealed away’ was apt for the silence that followed. Even at the best of times, BABYMETAL aren’t exactly foghorns of information, showing only the smallest amount of the hand the Fox God has dealt them. When they want to disappear, to call them ghosts is far too flamboyant.
And so, there was silence. For a full year, there wasn’t so much a question mark around BABYMETAL as a sort of acceptance that it was probably done.
And then, last October, exactly one year to the day since their last missive, a message came through. A new album, THE OTHER ONE, was coming in March 2023 – 10 new songs, each representing a previously unknown parallel world.
Rumours of BABYMETAL’s death, it seems, had been greatly exaggerated. They were still alive, they’d just been exploring other universes.
Really, we probably should have seen this all coming…
SU-METAL says that THE OTHER ONE is based around the theme of what she calls BABYMETAL’s ‘other’ story. That is, “visuals and songs scattered in 10 new worlds that we never knew existed”.
“THE OTHER ONE also revolves around the idea of perception in that what you see and understand may only reveal one side of the truth,” she continues. “Therefore, it dives into exploring the ‘other side’.”
“Through the parallel world called the METALVERSE, THE OTHER ONE restoration project began,” adds MOAMETAL. “THE OTHER ONE is comprised of 10 myths and it reveals the BABYMETAL that we’ve never encountered before. It is a multiverse story that transcends several dimensions from the past, present and future. And the concept album THE OTHER ONE consists of 10 tracks that were based on each of the 10 themes that have been discovered along the way. Some of the songs transcend time and space, restoring our voices that have been recorded in the past and merging them with our current voices.”
While you try to wrap your head around 10-dimensional space (somewhat disappointingly, that’s one-quieter than the 11 possible dimensions posited by some physicists in the mind-bending unifying idea of M-theory), let’s get back up to speed in a more conventional manner.
SU-METAL says that the announcement and the break was always intended to be a period in a chrysalis, gearing up for a next phase, albeit somewhat blown off course by COVID.
“The plan was, in 2020 when we commemorated our 10th anniversary of achieving METAL RESISTANCE, that BABYMETAL would complete season one of our legend and would enter a preparation period before they moved onto the next stage,” she explains. “At the same time, in 2020 the world entered into a pandemic. Although we had planned to enter a temporary break all along, we felt the need to properly announce that BABYMETAL would be sealed from live performances to avoid confusion among fans. This didn’t mean BABYMETAL would take a break from everything, but rather a slight pause on the front end to prepare for their next big move.”
Even intergalactic stars like they, and a mythical, all-powerful dieu renard, couldn’t avoid the effects of the pandemic. Such a machine coming to an emergency stop will leave its occupants discombobulated and off-bearing, as the pair quickly found.
“As BABYMETAL’s activities are based on meeting people and sharing happy times through music, we, like many others, were deprived of our normal daily lives due to the pandemic,” reflects SU-METAL. “Not being able to go on tour that we had been looking forward to and not being able to do live shows like before was mentally difficult for us. It made me anxious because all of a sudden, our ‘normal’ was no longer normal, and it was a big reminder of how much we have been really supported by [our fans].”
For MOAMETAL, there was also a feeling of helplessness as she saw such suffering going on through COVID.
“It was very painful and sad to see everyone who I love suffer during these painful times,” she says. “As I saw and heard the news of so many things happening around the world, I thought long and hard on how I could help.
“Things that crossed my mind were thoughts like, ‘I hope that fan of ours who came to our show is doing well,’ or, ‘I hope my friend who I haven’t seen in a while is doing okay.’ There were just so many instances like these. And I realised how helpless I was and all I could do was pray and hope. But although I felt helpless, this moment really put it into perspective for me to really value what is truly important.”
Not long before, when the decision was made that they would continue without YUIMETAL, MOAMETAL faced another question of what was important. Going from being one-third of a triptych to half of the band, would it be the same? More importantly, could she step up, and would their acolytes accept it, or see it as something of a two-legged fox?
“When we decided that it would be the two of us, I remember feeling scared of the audience and the way they looked at us,” she admits. “There were times when I would feel doubt in their eyes and I even started to doubt if the decision we made was a mistake. But discussing with SU-METAL, we both agreed that it wasn’t, and we shouldn’t run away. We decided, ‘Let’s put in everything we’ve got and move forward.’ It would be a lie if I said I didn’t feel uneasy at the time, but knowing that SU-METAL was with me gave me reassurance and it wasn’t just me that felt anxious. SU-METAL and I have always been there for each other and we both know that this is what has allowed us to come this far.”
The shows at Budokan in early 2021 were immense. After a year away for COVID, the achievement of doing 10 nights at the legendary venue, spread out over four months, became even more gilded. Though they were about to vanish again – and this time, very much on their own terms – it also marked a triumphant return of living life. Even if there were some concerns about still being match-fit after so long away.
“I definitely went through a pretty interesting experience, because with a lot of rehearsals lined up in preparation for our show, typically I would believe that my body would get tired, but the opposite happened,” says SU-METAL. “I felt more and more energised! I came to notice that I absolutely love performing live. The moment I stood onstage it felt very fulfilling, and not only that, I felt so proud to be able to do 10 shows in this day and age at the Budokan, a memorable place for us where we performed right before we started touring internationally.”
“I feel a sense of relief when I see everyone’s radiant, beautiful smiles from the stage – this is why I perform,” adds MOAMETAL. “I’m never nervous when I perform, so I felt at home when we played at the Budokan for the 10 shows.”
And the best bit?
“Food!” she laughs. “Every time we have a performance, our team prepares us delicious food. Keep it between you and me, but I was always looking forward to that moment!”
Six months after the curtain came down on the last Budokan show, and BABYMETAL drew their next veil over themselves as they went into stasis, the pair adjusted to the pause differently. SU-METAL admits that, “I’m sorry to say this, but during that time I forgot about the Fox God,” but for her bandmate, even returning somewhat to civvy street, she just couldn’t quit him.
“Well, the Fox God always appears in my dreams,” she says. “Even when we were sealed away, I thought that I’d be away from being MOAMETAL. But actually it was always in my mind and soul. So that being said, my faith in the Fox God was not shaken. He’s a bit mean for not letting me rest!”
THE OTHER ONE is great, fantastic, probably BABYMETAL’s best record to date. Often recalling Bring Me The Horizon – with whom SU-METAL and MOAMETAL collaborated in 2020 for Kingslayer on that band’s Post Human: Survival Horror – it’s a dizzying rush of high-energy metal and out-of-this-universe colour.
It also feels like something of a new beginning. Though not exactly breaking the BABYMETAL sound into a million pieces, it’s nevertheless sharper, stronger, a step upward and beyond. The dimensions each track represents are easier to grab onto and digest than the proposal might suggest, taking in themes that aren’t so much mind-bending as simply deep. Relatably so.
METAL KINGDOM is explained by the band’s musical brain KOBAMETAL as “ushering in the beginning of a new era while also representing the power and courage to step forward into uncharted territory. The track conveys imagery of one rising powerfully from the throne of silence, with a suitable fanfare announcing this new beginning.”
Detailing Mirror Mirror, he says, “Mirror, mirror on the wall… this song embodies a parallel world where the world inside the mirror and the world of reality go back and forth. Is what you see in the mirror your true self, or the self you wish to be?” Then there’s MAYA, posing the very big idea that “Reality is an illusion. The truth may be a deception. It is a feeling as if you wandered in between the real world and the virtual world. It may be magic, or it may be an illusion.”
This all chimes with SU-METAL and MOAMETAL, both of whom, when asked, can point to specific parts of the album that reflect their own feelings. For SU-METAL, it’s a line in MONOCHROME: ‘No matter how long the night the morning will arrive.’
“It has been a long night for all of us. For us, it was difficult to perform live and even meet people,” she says. “Some people are still fighting through this difficult situation. But everyone is gradually returning back into their daily lives. I want to encourage people to keep their chin up and have faith that a brighter future will come even if the sky is pitch black.”
For MOAMETAL, a woman who says she prefers to live in the here and now, it’s METAL KINGDOM that most accurately speaks to her.
“There’s a line, ‘No need to dwell on words that weigh you down and don’t look back on the road you’ve travelled / Live tomorrow at that place where light is present,’” she says. “It’s my favourite, because I feel like it describes who I am. No matter what people around me may say, I’ve managed to pursue the direction that I believe is right.
“Even if there may be times when we’re feeling down and sad, although it may require courage, for me while I’m dancing, thinking about how we’ve conquered uncharted territories gives me the strength to do anything and everything,” she adds, before admitting, “But actually, this isn’t my favourite song, though!”
The start of this glorious new phase, after a period of recalibration as a duo, then COVID, then hibernating at the end of their first decade, is also an opportunity to take stock of a massive life lived while still young. SU-METAL is now 25 years old, MOAMETAL 23. They have been in BABYMETAL since they were 12 and 10, respectively. There is no other band in Kerrang!’s world who have grown up in quite the same way as they have. A decade-and-change of success of the sort BABYMETAL have enjoyed is one journey, to have experienced such a thing at the same time as one would normally be figuring out the world before eventually heading out into it much later on as an adult is quite another.
“I started when I was a teenager. I am now 23 years old and age-wise I feel more mature,” says MOAMETAL. “But I feel like even if it’s been 10 years, there are a lot of things that haven’t changed, like the motivation to explore a new type of metal, my love for our team, my love for having fun, my love of amazing food…
“Although a lot of things haven’t changed, looking back on the past 10 years, thanks to all our fans and all those who have been involved with BABYMETAL, I believe that I’ve gained so much knowledge and have had the experience of a lifetime. I guess that is definitely one thing that has changed. That, and these days I feel much more sore after dancing!”
She adds, though, that she is now more aware of her own autonomy as a human being. That, actually, her life is hers to mould herself, and that today affects tomorrow.
“I’m more of a person who likes to focus on the present,” she says. “I’ve always done my best to live in the present all this time, so I’ve never put in the time to think about the future. I guess, generally speaking, I’ve never really thought about the future at all. I’ve never really had the thought of, ‘I want to do that,’ and instead of what I want to do, I’ve focused more on what I am able to do and to be grateful for every opportunity that has been given to me. So now that you mention it, I guess now would be a good time to start considering the future.
“I would describe myself as someone who takes responsibility to heart. I’m not one to drop everything and do what I desire, unless it’s as a reward for myself,” she elaborates. “It might be good for me to consider what my heart is telling me to do. I believe that my future depends on what I am doing now, so I want to value being present and do the best I can.”
For SU-METAL, the eye-opening experience of seeing the world first-hand has gone in tandem with the idea that this band is more deeply rooted than something you do for a bit. It is her life.
“Over the past 10 years, I’ve travelled to many countries and have met a lot of people. I’ve witnessed a lot of times when music works wonders, and it is just fascinating how much influence music has on people,” she muses. “One instance I’ve seen many times is, even if people don’t speak the same language, they are able to communicate through music. Also, MOAMETAL and I have been together longer than my own family, so I sincerely think she is like my sister as we’ve shared so many experiences together through our 10-year journey.”
As the pair prepare for the release of THE OTHER ONE, and for their arena tour with Swedish military metal bears Sabaton, it’s time to look, as MOAMETAL says, to the future. Especially since previously – for those on the outside, anyway – such a thing was too fuzzy to see.
Big question first, then: who’s mightier – the Fox God or Joakim from Sabaton?
“Very difficult question,” ponders SU-METAL. “I think the Fox God is stronger. But to be honest, I still haven’t gotten the chance to really get to know Joakim yet. I know he’s quite strong, so the results may be overturned!”
“I think our Fox God – he’s not human!” laughs MOAMETAL. “How should we measure who is stronger?”
“Okay, if we go with arm wrestling, I would put my money on Joakim because he’s ripped. We have a song called KARATE, so should we have them do a karate match? Actually, what about an eating contest?”
Ball firmly in Joakim’s court, it’s time to climb aboard and get ready for the next 10 years. The future, they say, is bright, and BABYMETAL are seizing it.
“I pray that the future of all people will be happier than it is now, even if it’s just a little bit,” says MOAMETAL. “I hope that the world will be a place where people can live with more hope than now. I would be happy if BABYMETAL’s music were to add happiness and hope for someone.”
The past is the past. BABYMETAL are now primed and ready for the future. Out of stasis, and conquering worlds and universes far beyond our own, it seems the silence was just the end of the beginning.
“The seal has been lifted and our new legend will begin,” asserts SU-METAL. “We have had our 10 years, but we plan to start a new journey, one in which only BABYMETAL can create. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
The FOX GOD is back. Strap in.
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