METZ – II
Sub Pop Records
By Eugene Buonaccorsi
When listening to Toronto’s loudest band, METZ, it’s necessary to rethink what you are focusing on. For decades, pop, rock, R&B, and hip-hop music have taught listeners to hone in on the vocal performance of a song or album in order to digest its primary message. This makes sense when the narration and essence of the music is channeled through that outlet, but METZ’s albums are more reminiscent of fundamental styles like jazz, in that the instrumental interplay is what dictates the mood of the performance.
The band’s latest album, II, is in large part, a sonic companion to its predecessor METZ. It’s a noisy mess of garage rock hammering and punk influenced snark shouted into feedback. The entire ethos of the album is rooted in the thirst for a louder solution, or a more discordant verse, and the points of the songs are made through visceral strength more than anything else.
Vocalist Alex Edkins doesn’t present his syntax first, but rather his emotional state. On “Nervous System” his wild, wordless shout kicks off the song stronger than any assertion could and he perpetuates the angular chorus of “Spit Me Out” by drawing out the decays of the word to give them condescension. He plays his vocal performance like an instrument, and while his lyrics are worth hearing, his primary goal is elsewhere, as a wild force of energy.
That is not to say that II is a constant barrage of shouts and ridged noise. Tracks like “The Swimmer” and “Landfill” experiment with dancey beats and catchy, fuzzed out harmonies. Sure, they are accompanied by terse, throaty vocals and a rhythm section that almost forces itself into the forefront, but they are stylistically variable nonetheless.
II never lags because it seems urgent to make a point, whether with a new representation of METZ’s standard noise rock heft or with a slightly more accessible variation that displays the talent of the musicians in the background.
With an aesthetic that’s immediately repellant to casual music listeners, II isn’t going to find its way onto many summer playlists. Nor will your friends beg you to toss the record on while you all sip Leinenkugel down at your uncle’s boathouse. It’s a challenging album by a challenging band that tends to self-select its listeners, finding its way to those who yearn for the extreme and the aggressively created.
Lack of mainstream acceptance aside, II is a worthy addition to the year’s list of releases… one that pushes the capabilities of the band’s style by expanding the pacing and dynamics they established on their strong debut. – (7/10)