METZ have established themselves as modern post-punk titans over the course of a decade, making albums as sonically punishing as they are deceptively catchy. Pained, barb wire-wrapped pop structures coated in honey, dipped in broken glass and meticulously pounded into our psyches until we give into the aural assault.
The Canadian four-piece released their fourth full-length, the excellent Atlas Vending, in 2020. With touring not an option METZ did a livestream show on October 15th from a famous Toronto venue called The Opera House. The band performed Atlas Vending in its entirety, along with two classic b-sides. The results are captured on Live At The Opera House, METZ’ first live album. This is a band firing on all cylinders, capturing the sonic meltdown captured on the studio record, as well as METZ proving why they are considered one of the best live bands out there.
Atlas Vending is the album METZ was working towards. With their first two releases the band experimented with buzzsaw guitars, punk rock flailing, and noise experimentations to great effect. They were making Steve Albini-sounding albums without Steve Albini(something they actually did on album three, Strange Peace.) Pop confections covered in glass shards, oxidation, and gold leaf. With their latest studio album the band found the right balance of sonic assault, melody, aggressive tendencies, and outsider art. And since their secret weapon is connecting to a live audience, they weren’t going to let something like a world health crisis stop them from doing just that.
Live At The Opera House is 53 minutes of punishing riffs, tribal rhythms, pummeling bass, and pained vocal screeches. It’s a band laying waste to all that enter their hallowed hall of sonic mayhem. The songs from Atlas Vending are presented here live; untethered, unrestrained, and let off the leash to roam the stage of the Opera House, fangs showing and claws slashing at the air.
If you’re familiar with Atlas Vending then this live album will be a treat. The only thing missing is a live audience, which was watching from the safety of their isolating safe spots around the world. The band uses the space well, bringing tracks like “Blind Youth Industrial Park”, “No Ceiling”, and “Framed By The Comet’s Tail” to bright, blistering life. 12-minute album closer “A Boat To Drown In” is exquisite here. One of the band’s most pop-leaning riffs, the song brings together vibes of Mission Of Burma, NEU!, and Wire with the band’s own knack for razor-wire jagged angular riffage.
Tacked onto the end are two of the band’s earlier tracks, the bass-heavy 2010 single “Negative Space” and caffeinated barn burner “Wet Blanket” off their Sub Pop debut. Both show a gnarly, scrappy band that has evolved without losing any of that angst and spirit that drove them from the start.
Live At The Opera House is a live album for these pandemic times. I’m not sure the Opera House will ever be the same again. And neither will my eardrums.
8.2 out of 10