I had the misfortune of seeing METZ live before ever hearing their debut album. When first throwing it on, I found myself constantly turning up the volume, in hopes of replicating the ferocity of their show: the jagged howl and unstable static of Alex Edkins’ guitars and vocals, the muddy drone of Chris Slorach’s bass, the tom-drenched caves of Hayden Menzies’ drums. But then I noticed something that had quietly slipped under the radar during their concert: melody.
It’s not that a METZ gig is unlistenable. It just hits you so fast and so hard that you’re not quite sure what you’ve experienced. The walls threaten to collapse from the cranked up volume. The band’s tractor beam energy glazes over your eyes. You have a good time, yet you can’t quite remember what the songs sound like.
But on record, they bring a sharpened tune-smithery to their noise-punk, clipping off opener “Headache” right as it stands to fall apart and keeping the speed and power of “Wet Blanket” so consistent it’s hypnotic. In the creepily titled “Knife In the Water”, Edkins screams the terse chorus of “fall down” with a focus that’s both hooky and horrific. All of the songs cut through speakers with rapid-fire, unified momentum as opposed to indulgent shoegaze jamming or tiresome crescendos, a perfect aesthetic for the band’s subject matter.
“Most of it is dealing with the modern way of life in a gigantic city and feeling some of those conditions starting to weigh down on you: the anxiety, the hysteria,” Edkins recently told The New Yorker. It’s doubtful that listeners would relate to the sound of urban pressure without a clear-cut musical foundation. And when purely listening to METZ, experiencing their songwriting talent in the midst of the scrum, they can hum along to the chaos.
Essential Tracks: “Headache”, “Knife In the Water”, and “Wet Blanket”