METZ - II (Sub Pop)

METZ – II (Sub Pop)

Metz - II

Musical history has delivered us a number of acts who have taken their nom-de-plume from well-known French towns. Check out the list, Mica Paris, Nancy Sinatra, T’Pau and..err..Bayonnce. OK, so I made the last one up but despite our love/hate relationship with our channel hopping neighbours there remains an element of cool sophistication which appeals to your average Francophile.

METZ (the band) are not French; they hail from Toronto, a city which has a French population of only 4.5% and are as far away from cool and sophisticated as you’re ever likely to get. As frontman Alex Edkins cheerfully explains, the album emanates from ‘a year of loss and doubt, of contemplating our relationships with death and the planet.’ I must remember to invite him next time I require a motivational speaker!

Back in 2012, as the world was once again girding its loins for another barren harvest of full frontal guitar music, METZ released METZ. This was an album as startling in its ability to stop you dead in your tracks as it was uninspired in its choice of title. It was a 30 minute slab of noise, the likes of which we hadn’t heard for a while. We, the collective unwashed, lapped it up. METZ became big news.

Three years later, they return with another assault to the senses and it’s obvious from the album cover what we’re in for here. Two hunched figures bowed in nihilistic contemplation of the vast nothingness in front of them sums up the album rather neatly. Either that or it’s two blokes playing Candy Crush on the sea front at Scarborough. You decide.

The noise invasion that is II starts within about 12 seconds on the opener ‘Acetate’ which sets the tone for the next half an hour. Deep bass combined with crashing buzzsaw guitars followed by angsty slurred vocals, this is the METZ formula and trust me, it works very nicely. Edkins clearly has a lot to tell us, it’s just unfortunate that with the noise levels turned up to eleven I can rarely get a grasp of what his message is!

The stand out track ‘Spit You Out’ is as close as METZ are ever likely to get to a pop tune. It’s verging on the melodic with more than a hint of The Vines‘Get Free‘ if you can remember that far back. So three tracks in and already the album has churned my insides and curdled my blood. It’s that kind of a listen, there are no ballads here, no let-up and certainly no escape. You strap yourself in and go with the flow or you go home. Simple as.

‘IOU’ is nothing if not anthemic, a paean to a simpler time when the world seemed to be awash with similar acts and albums of this visceral intensity commonplace. I believe they called it the early Nineties. ‘It’s dead, it’s dead, it’s dead’ exhorts Edkins and perhaps he is right but whilst his trusty trio of troubadours hold a candle for desolate whinge-mongering then perhaps all is not yet lost.

I genuinely can’t decide whether METZ are enjoying themselves or despising every moment of their existence. However, any band who includes a track called ‘Landfill’ on their album is either very tongue in cheek or taunting reviewers into an ill-advised pun.

It is only as the album comes to a conclusion with ‘Kicking A Can Of Worms’ that Metz finally make a false step, it’s just a wall of noise which might sound ironic given what has gone before but that’s the joy of this album, at no point do you ever feel they are making up for a lack of ability by filling the empty void with a cacophonous racket.  II may lack for the balance of light and shade but the dark stuff is haunting, bewildering and if I’m truly honest, rather disturbing. It should come with the phone number for a local self-help group.

Listen, let’s be grown up about this. Metz are signed to Sub Pop and that is usually your cast iron guarantee, a kite mark if you will, for quality noise-pop. Fugazi, Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth have all graced the Sub Pop roster at some point and the labels position in rock folklore has long been established. METZ are yet another act in this fine tradition and have produced an album of dark, worrying beauty. This won’t be for everyone and is probably best listened to on the ferry to Vancouver Island in the midst of a violent hailstorm rather than a sun-kissed Ibiza beach.

Metz, the town, has a dragon as a symbol, known as The Graoully. It is said to represent paganism within the town and tales are rife of how St Clement used Christianity to defeat the dragon. METZ, the band, are on a similar modern day crusade to rid the world of musical paganism. Choose which side you’re on now, you have been warned.


II is released on 4th May 2015 through Sub Pop



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