Royal Mountain/Sub Pop Records
Now four studio LPs in and 12 years as a group, METZ are synonymous with a distorted, feral racket. Somewhere in the middle of a Venn diagram, detailing hardcore punk, noise rock, post punk and shoegaze there’s a tiny convergence where you’ll find the Toronto noiseniks. In a recent interview with bassist Chris Slorach, Northern Transmissions’ very own Gregory Adam’s unearthed the true ethos of a METZ track, or as Slorach put it “We never intend to bludgeon just for the sake of being bludgeoning; there’s always supposed to be something to hang onto”. The same interview is very aptly entitled ‘METZ Bludgeon with Beauty on Atlas Vending’.
‘Atlas Vending’ is the trio’s latest LP and it’s here that the three piece maintain their eardrum troubling volume levels but most importantly, their knack for a hook. What’s key to METZ and to ‘Atlas Vending’ is the wanton lust to progress and never be satisfied, as mentioned by guitarist/vocalist, Alex Edkins via the unit’s Bandcamp page.
With a sonic propensity to rattle our craniums, ‘Atlas Vending’ is a cathartic experience; the sheer volume that METZ conjure up, while augmented and contorted through the band’s very own noise filter has and always will be something to behold. This intense, claustrophobic assault buoys lyrical themes such as paternity, social anxiety, addiction, isolation, paranoia and the urge to leave everything behind. While not written or inspired by the unrelenting shit-storm that is 2020, it’s certainly a record that reflects the mood of a year that’s been crippled by a global disease and the subsequent social, political and economic fallout.
A sinister scree and an incessant thud welcomes you into ‘Atlas Vending’s world; album opener ‘Pulse’ has the trio traversing pockets of machine-like noise, before exploding with the force of a blunt instrument crashing down on a human skull. Paranoia quivers throughout, as Edkins slurs, “Is there something out there? /step outside” before howling like an injured animal as guitars, bass and drums (courtesy of Hayden Menzies) collide and fragment. Anxiety and desperation frame the angular abrasion of ‘The Mirror’, as squalling call and response guitars bounce off pummelled drum skins, that envelope an agonised sounding Edkins “when you’re done/holding on/what’s left of this place?” The unpredictable violence of ‘Draw Us In’ sounds like acerbic post-punk on a washing machine’s spin cycle, mixed with queasy loud/quiet dynamic shifts. The band’s mouthpiece again can be heard via the downbeat “you and I were lost from the start/looking me over/I’m falling apart” before the plaintive “what did I do?” punctuates the feeling of hopelessness. METZ prove themselves to be the kings of noise manipulation on the slow whirr of ‘Framed by The Comets Tail’; a track that starts life via a doomy echo and an unnerving twang, as if to signal a foreboding assault, which eventually presents itself by a flurry of caustic post-punk. In amongst the chaos Edkins can be heard coarsely declaring, “I see nothing in your love”. As a precursor to ‘Framed by The Comets Tail’s broken relationship woes, ‘No Ceiling’ is a sub-two minute detonation of distorted hardcore, where Edkins barks “I found your love”, I guess only for it to be withdrawn later into the record. ‘Parasite’, like ‘No Ceiling’ does not waste any time; just creeping over the two minute mark, it still conveys that same uncontrollable urge for destruction, with our protagonist yelping, “I hear the bastards!”
‘Blind Youth Industrial Park’ is where METZ flex their ability to bludgeon while offering up a catchy hook; a frenzied aggression stomps with the subtly of Godzilla tearing down Tokyo, while sweet, distant backing vocals coo with an angelic tone. Capping off ‘Atlas Vending’ is the almost eight minute long opus ‘A Boat to Drown in’, a song that still gnaws and grinds with the aggression and urgency of what’s come before but there’s a looser feeling the gives the track a lithe, supple texture. You can hear a desperation in Edkins as he roughly sings, “hold on tight/we’re leaving at midnight/if we don’t leave now/we’re not getting out alive” before barking, “I need to leave this place now more than ever”. Bringing the record and song to a close, METZ dial down the intensity for something sounding closer to tarnished shoegaze as ‘Atlas Vending’ is jammed out to an elongated finale.
Ugly yet beautiful ‘Atlas Vending’ just illustrates how METZ are the masters of their craft.