Punk is at its best when it sends a shock to the system. It should throttle. It should jab. Making a statement is fine, and political motivations can sometimes make the sting even more potent. But without that physical jolt, all the vitriol directed at “The Man” won’t do a lick of good if the music itself isn’t particularly engaging. This isn’t a problem for Metz, a Toronto trio cut from a similar cloth as speaker-blowing `90s luminaries like Drive Like Jehu and Shellac, or contemporary caterwaulers like New York’s The Men. If there’s an agenda to Metz’s music, it’s imposing a forceful and inflammable din on their audience with an almost intimidating level of conviction.
Part of what makes Metz’s post-hardcore so tightly wound and fearsomely executed is the time that went into perfecting it. The group has spent half a decade performing live and releasing at least one seven-inch single each year. So by the time they’ve issued their self-titled debut via Sub Pop, they’re already seasoned and conditioned, hardened and pressurized. On this 29-minute body bomb of an album, it shows; as odd as it is to used “refined” to describe a collection of music so brutal and uncompromising, these 11 no-frills noise rockets sound as much the product of perfectionism as they do spontaneity.
At no point do Alex Edkins, Hayden Menzies and Chris Slorach allow any external factors to play a role in their guitar/bass/drums/vocals set-up, and at no point does anything sound unfinished or spare. The band makes a lot of noise period, let alone for just three guys, and the added dose of distortion only makes an already booming highlight such as leadoff track “Headache” blast with that much greater force. Likewise, Slorach’s basslines and Menzies’ drums do the bulk of the throttling here, backing each track with the concussive force of two boxers with cinder blocks for fists. On record it makes “Rats” and “Wet Blanket” smack with fierceness; live, I can only imagine the kind of damage this rhythm section can do. To his credit, though, Edkins scratches and screeches with the best of them, hollering like Rick Froberg one moment, bellowing like John Lydon the next.
Unquestionably one of the tightest bands in punk rock today, Metz one-ups any earnest workhorse sensibility by also being one of the most exciting. Given the low bar set by some Bandcamp-to-festival indieshambles of late, it’s more than refreshing to hear a band that actually puts a little elbow grease into creating something intended to hit the audience right where it counts. The brawny, powerful sound of Metz’s debut is the kind of knockout punch that feels remarkably like a live album, and a particularly raucous one at that. It may be breaking a cardinal rule of punk, but the best thing that Metz ever did was give a shit.
Video: Metz – “Wet Blanket”