You’ve Probably Never Heard of Them: METZ – II (Album Review)

METZ – II

By: Dillon McKinnish

METZ’s eponymous 2012 debut was one of the most acclaimed records of that year, seamlessly blending the genres of noise rock and post-hardcore with just a hint of grunge for good measure. The Toronto trio’s 2015 follow-up picks right up where its predecessor left off, and may even surpass the self-titled LP.

Noticeable Big Black and Jesus Lizard influences permeate through the record, framed by dense, angular guitar riffs and machine-like drumming. The bass production is worth noting, as it is actually audible in the mix, something that modern rock music tends to omit.

Not departing from the to-the-point approach of the first LP, “Acetate” kicks off the record with a saturnine bass-line that precedes the brief hum of a distorted guitar rig shortly before the listener is punched in the face with the jagged post-hardcore that METZ is known for.

 Buzzing feedback that morphs into a bizarre melody over an electronic drum loop sets the album’s lead-off single, “The Swimmer,” into motion. The main riff and fuzzed-out vocals creep into the fray as a sudden burst of upbeat, dance-worthy fury erupts from the speakers. The chorus is irresistibly catchy and compliments the torrents of noise that entail the bulk of the track.

Before the realization hits that “The Swimmer” has concluded, an almost mechanized drum intro leads into “Spit You Out.” This mid-paced stomper is characterized by discordant guitars backed up by some creative drumming, courtesy of Hayden Menzies. Layers of feedback resonate over the drum-and-bass-driven verses, as singer-guitarist Alex Edkins belts out the somber lyrics: “Keep looking for a broken place/Seems like you’re always alone/Why can’t you just admit it?/You never made a dent/You should’ve been committed/Your time came and went.” After the bridge mid-way through the song, a cacophonous guitar solo with no regard for formal technique invades the soundscape. This is a fitting single for the record, as it encapsulates the full spectrum of the album’s dismal tone.

Following a brief interlude of noise and voices (“Zzyzx”) the highlight of the A-side, “I.O.U.,” kicks the album into high gear. The pounding, pulverizing track stands out with a drive to it that the previous songs lacked, but it’s the B-side where things really begin to pick up, particularly with the track, “Landfill.”

Aggressive and unrelenting from start to finish, grating, jagged guitars overlay a bombardment of drum battery that’s rounded out by Chris Slorach’s clever bass playing. Jarring, bent-sounding guitar sounds are speckled throughout the verses, as the song builds up to an intense chorus. “Always peeling my feet off the ground/Landfill/We keep crawling around,” Epkins moans in an almost ghostly tone during the abrasive choruses.

METZ keep the energy up with the fierce, noise-punk savagery of “Nervous System,” easily the most violent-sounding track on the record. It hits with a one-two combination of frantic, guitar-driven abuse that’s punctuated by Edkins shredding his vocal cords in the maniacal fray.

The bouncy, drum-heavy “Wait In Line” arrives in the aftermath of “Nervous System,” which gears down the intensity a bit, but compensates with great songwriting. “Eyes Peeled” picks back up the blast of the punk-tinged frenzy with some of Menzies’ best drum work yet, along with a noise-laden guitar solo that would bring a smile to any Sonic Youth fan’s face.

Concluding the LP is the haunting, plodding “Kicking a Can Of Worms.” The murky, hypnotic barrage of distortion rounds out the dreary tone with eerie vocals that give way to a dissonant wall of sound that abruptly ends, giving the silence that follows an almost deafening presence.

METZ has returned with a darker, more brooding album than the previous effort. While the 1st LP may have had more catchy songs, II demonstrates that METZ have managed to fine-tune and expand upon their brand of coarse, noise-influenced post-hardcore. Available online at the Sub Pop Records webstore or at your local record store.

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