Metz have obliterated car speakers and ear drums quite easily since their Sub Pop debut album back in 2012. Their sound is like Tinnitus feedback served over a post-hardcore back beat with a healthy dose of primal screaming sprinkled on top. The Bleach and In Utero comparisons aren’t without merit, but there’s more to the Toronto trio than idol Nirvana references. Big Black, Black Flag, Jesus Lizard, Polvo, and any number of post-hardcore bands play a role in the pulverizing sound that Metz make. There’s an equal mix of influence and intuition that goes into their heavier-than-thou blitzkrieg of noise.
With three full-lengths under their belts, Strange Peace from 2017 being the most recent, Metz decided to look back a bit for their next release. Automat is a collection of b-sides, rarities, and non-album tracks that date back to 2009. The record is in chronological order, so you can hear the progression of these Toronto punks from blistering white noise to carefully distilled aural violence. The results are a fascinating trip from where Metz started to where they’re headed.
Alex Edkins, Hayden Menzies, and Chris Slorach have always maintained a calculated hook among the barb wire riffs and dissonant explosions of noise. It’s like Chuck Berry being eaten alive and still trying to duck walk across the stage, sans no legs. “Soft Whiteout” sounds like bare wires sparking over a fully engaged table saw as these three attempt the same blistering riff over and over. “Lump Sums” is a tribal trial by fire, filled with menacing vocals and the sound of a guitar devouring itself with amps at 11. Alex Edkins sound particulary troubled here, which makes it all the more enticing. “Dry Up” starts out with a catchy guitar riff, then the song goes into a rhythm-heavy groove as Edkids screams from what sounds like a cavernous hole.
Hardcore fans will recognize tracks like “Pure Auto”, “Dirty Shirt”, “Automat” “Wet Blanket” and “Negative Space”, as these are more recognizable in the band’s canon of 7 inch single releases. That’s the beautiful thing about Metz, they understand and appreciate the power of a good non-album track. Even after signing with Sub Pop they continued to put out 7 inch singles for fans to satiate their appetite between proper records(their 2016 RSD release split with Missions of Burma is one of my personal favorites.)
From far out experimental noise excursions like “Ripped on the Fence” to the punk rock noise bomb of “Eraser”, Metz prove to be one of the most engaged rock bands working today. A primal urgency permeates their work, and when the b-sides are as good as this, you can only imagine what they save for the albums.
7.9 out of 10