Let’s hear it for Canada. Metz, the three-piece, Toronto based noise-rock band, (reviewed at tinyurl.com/zubmetz) has released an amazing new LP, Atlas Vending, their fourth full-length. Guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach, and drummer Hayden Menzies continue to expand and refine their pummeling, sometimes atonal music, and this is a sound that owes some to bands like The Jesus Lizard and Shellac. Not for the faint of heart, but worth the investment.
The ten songs on Atlas Vending have a lot to offer. Opener ‘Pulse’ is a slow burner with a relentless bass drum figure. When the song breaks open like a nuclear explosion, all is right in the world. Drummer Menzies is an absolute powerhouse, and Edkins’ guitar lines are complete atonal six-string insanity. ‘Blind Youth Industrial Park’ is a relatively straight rocker with background ‘aaahs,’ very reminiscent of an early Mission Of Burma (our Burma podcast is at tinyurl.com/zubacademy) track. It’s a new twist for Metz and really impressive.
The two minute ‘No Ceiling’ is a hyperspeed rocker that has the bones of a Ramones (Ramones podcast at tinyurl.com/zubheyho) tune, with an almost ‘regular’ chord progression. It’s a little gem and is over way too quickly. ‘Hail Taxi’ is again, a more melodic song with some hardscrabble lyrics:
Hard sell, the structures fall through the floor
Bend into it, can't make the shoe fit
Brand new morning taking hold
Did you censor your senses
Of all those living their lives on top of you? Yeah, yeah
I'm sending messages
I'm sending messages
I'm sending messages to you
‘Sugar Pill’ has a tsunami of sound in the intro, followed by a cool, weird progression. It’s a desperate, high intensity sound that’s different for Metz, high up on the guitar neck, a bit like a Sonic Youth Daydream Nation track. ‘Framed By The Comet’s Tail’ is a bitter tale of a bad relationship, with a vaguely eastern guitar figure. It has a sort of early Public Image Limited feel (PiL review at tinyurl.com/zubrotten). ‘Parasite’ has almost a early 80’s hardcore sound: Menzie’s drums and Slorach’s bass just mowing down all in front of them, with Eadkins screaming about the “bastards” coming. It is dark, heavy, and totally Metz. The LP closer ‘A Boat To Drown In,’ is an uncompromising, walloping tune clocking in at 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Again, the choruses and vocals remind me of a Clint Conley Mission Of Burma song.
I’ve checked a few reviews of Atlas Vending, and a particular hipster site (guess which one) is ripping Metz for being ‘commercial.’ That idea is a bunch of crap. The band has its own musical language and they are expanding and developing, like all great artists do. They have very few peers that can do what they do, and their sound isn’t for everyone.
I’ve found this is one of those paint-peeling, noisy rock records that sounds like three young men kicking it out. Metz make me want to run into a brick wall, or jump on a folding table like a drunk Buffalo Bills fan. In this depressing time, the nasty noise of Metz is a balm for my soul, very much like the new Bob Mould record I recently reviewed (tinyurl.com/zubheartsbob). Here’s to Metz, and thank you Canada!
The stream of the band live is from the empty Opera House in Toronto. Metz started Atlas Vending and played it in order. The intro was in arty black and white and by the middle of ‘Pulse’ turned to color. ‘Blind Youth Industrial Park’ was just amazing, and it was good to see these guys in action. I’ve never seen them live, but they are pretty image-neutral, just three Canadian lads wearing T-shirts and playing cool gear. Guitarist Eadkins with a Fender Jazzmaster and a few cool pedals (his noise box of choice is the trusty ProCo Rat distortion pedal). Bassist Slorach had a neat 70’s Gibson RD bass and some distortion pedals; his tone was amazing. Powerhouse drummer Menzies had a 70’s Ludwig clear kit with color stripes. He was probably the most compelling to watch.
The only thing missing from an outstanding version of ‘No Ceiling’ was a moshing, stage-diving crowd, off limits in the time of Covid. This one is a true anthem and Metz tore it up. ‘Hail Taxi’ was also excellent, Eadkins nailing the vocal and guitar. Metz were as tight as can be; they sounded like they had been touring. The push-pull rhythm of ‘Draw Us In’ was a top-notch workout for the rhythm section. By the time they played ‘Sugar Pill,’ Metz was on a pummeling rock groove. ‘Framed By The Comet’s Tail’ was amazing, still reminding me of a heavier version of a PiL song. Between the sledgehammer bass and guitar was a delicate guitar figure, it was very well done.’Parasite’ was a revved up rocker led by Menzies insane drumming.
The Metz boys, having not said a word to the viewers, ended up the stream with the epic ‘A Boat To Drown In.’ The monster choruses disappearing a few minutes in for a long, long coda with a single repeated bass note. This is Metz exchanging noise for much artier impressions, and it was beautiful. Leaving the guitar looper pedal on, the band left the stage. After the credits rolled, they showed Metz playing ‘Negative Space’ from their first LP. There was one more epic version of ‘Wet Blanket’ from the same LP, and the show was over.