Metz is a Candian trio on Sub Pop Records, that plays an inventive and punishing version of guitar based noise rock. They are loud, almost anti-melodic, and owe a great debt to bands such as Big Black, The Jesus Lizard and anything that was on Amphetamine Reptile Records. Their last LP, Strange Peace, was a triumph produced by the indomitable Steve Albini. Automat is a collection of their earlier singles (A and B sides) as well as some demos, and as it is set chronologically, giving a good picture of the band’s path. And being built from singles, Automat, obviously earns notice at Zub, home of the Singles Going Steady Podcast.
The earlier tracks on Automat, such as the opener ‘Soft Whiteout,’ are as uncompromising, and, er, noisy as they come. Screaming vocals don’t add any melody, and Metz shows off it’s rough-and-tumble rhythm section of bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies. ‘Lump Sums’ has a grinding, Big Black sound, with a repeated chord from guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins drilling all the way through. (Producer Albini’s Big Black will be the subject of a forthcoming SGS podcast). The massive drum sound of ‘Dry Up’ is positively Bonham-esque, and this one is a stage-diver special. The stop-start rhythm in the intro to ‘Ripped On The Fence’ reminds me of early Helmet. This one has more of a listenable melodic vocal, showing a little melody emerging in Metz-land, and it’s great. The single version of ‘Negative Space’ moves along very quickly, sporting some disturbing effects on the vocals. Slorach’s bass has a real Killing Joke feel on this one. The lumbering weirdness of ‘Automat’ has a bit of a sixties psychedelic feel, all super delayed and echoey with mantra-like vocals.
On the demo version of ‘Wet Blanket,’ from their 2012 LP METZ, Edkins has a John Lydon-esque vocal as the band crunches its way through a two chord stomp. ‘Dirty Shirt’ is a real rocker, showing off riffs that could be from a Nirvana, or even better, a Germs record. It has a real hook and makes me want to jump up and down on the couch! ‘Leave Me Out’ again has a strong Nirvana feel, the melody starting to nip at the heels of the noise. This is killer, no compromise, punk AF rock. The echoey ‘Can’t Understand’ turns up the string bending in the verses, but has a strong hook in the chorus. The frantic, insistent riff of ‘Pure Auto’ is amazing, veering more on hardcore than noise rock. Automat ends up with the amazing ‘Eraser,’ following a bruising heavy funk bass line, this is one of Metz’s strongest missives, slabs of heaviness and pure angst fighting guitar skronk all the way through.
So, on its own, Automat holds up as a great collection of songs. Here in Zubland, the noise-rock is not a huge thing, although Adrienne and I both love Mission Of Burma and I am a total fanboy for Big Black. Metz is not for everyone. It’s the sound of testosterone rock, young folks, loud guitars, bass and drums and giving f*** all about standard rock/band/pop conventions. I salute their little Canadian hearts. Keep the noise coming.