Metz – ‘Atlas Vending’

By Andy Joice

Toronto has a legacy of producing outstanding bands. From PUP and Cancer bats, to Fucked Up and Broken Social Scene, there’s always been a strong outpouring of bands from the area. One band that’s seemingly overlooked in the higher echelons of Toronto superstars are Metz. Formed in Ottowa but based in Toronto, they’re a band known for their no-nonsense, heavy-as-fuck brand of post-punk noise rock. With the release of their fourth album ‘Atlas Vending’, they’re pushing themselves even harder to get the recognition they deserve.

Opening with ‘Pulse’, it’s clear from the outset they’re still as unashamedly visceral as ever. Discordant chords and Alex Edkins’ meandering vocals sit together perfectly, leading up to an eardrum bursting chorus. Less focused on melodies in the verses, there’s a minimalism that shines through, leaving a feeling of faux discomfort. Throughout the whole track, you can feel something brewing, whetting the appetite for what’s to come on the rest of the record. It’s a teaser, one that leaves you desperate for the reveal.

‘Blind Youth Industrial Park’ immediately follows, somehow bringing melody through the chaos. It’s here we see some key developments though, with the backing vocals from bassist Chris Slorach being reminiscent of ‘Songs For The Deaf’ era Queens Of The Stone Age – dreamy but eerie.

‘The Mirror’ opens with an almost excessive but definitely warranted drum beat that remains through the track. With Hayden Menzies smashing the ever-loving shit out of his drumkit, it’s a surprise he doesn’t manage to puncture the skins with every beat. They must’ve done something to him in a past life, as the ferocity he plays with is frightening. Screeching guitars and a thunderous bass line create a frothy layer of fuzz that always seems on the verge of explosion, but manages to remain controlled.

‘No Ceiling’ and ‘Hail Taxi’ are both far more measured, with melodies at the forefront. With a more refined sound, they’re likely the most accessible tracks on the record, and probably the best jumping in point for new fans. Both contain some incredibly catchy hooks, with the chorus in the latter being a particularly potent ear worm. It’s easy to hear it being echoed back at the band once live shows are back on, with the words “I’m sending messages” becoming a mantra of sorts.

‘Draw Us In’ follows suit in being melodic in a left field way – the guitar and bass lines seem to battle for prominence, not harmoniously but in a straight battle for blood. It might sound like a difficult listen, but it works perfectly, complimenting their scuzzy abrasiveness. Similarly, the battle for the loudest instrument continues into ‘Sugar Pill’. The guitars and bass lines crash while the drumming is near cacophonous, and yet, come the chorus, everything falls into place at exactly the right time, resulting in another effortlessly hook that sticks with you like the smell of burnt plastic – you shouldn’t like it, but you can’t help but embrace it.

Closing track ‘A Boat To Drown In’ is the longest track on the record, weighing in at 7:37 minutes long. It’s a slow burner, one that embraces everything we’ve heard so far. A refined melody, exuberant instrumentation and Edkins’ vocals bouncing around effortlessly. Its four minute outro is a thing of beauty, filled to the brim with scuzzy guitars that just seem to whine endlessly, a bass line that trots aimlessly and a gentler drumbeat (fair play to Menzies, he must’ve been knackered by this point). The melodies don’t come from the strings, but instead from overlaid synths. Harkening back to the dreamy state heard earlier in the record, it somehow encapsulates a feeling of loneliness and space about the background noise.

It’s the perfect representation of Metz – throughout all the insanity and rapturous music, there are moments of beauty and detail that shine through every song. In a world where the constant noise of media, politics and society can be overwhelming, Metz will show you there are things behind the noise that are worth paying attention to. And that describes ‘Atlas Vending’ to a tee. For every moment where you think they’ve gone too far, they’re about to fall off a cliff of noise, they instead take a step back and show you something you’ve missed. Cut through the noise, and you’ve got an utter gem.

ANDY JOICE

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