Jesus, noise rock...is that you? You do something to your hair? Working out now? I mean, damn, you look amazing!
Sorry, where was I?
There was a time when every second band I listened to sounded something like local trio METZ. From Jawbox to Helmet to The Jesus Lizard to Hammerhead to Quicksand to June of 44 to Shallow ND to...
It was a seemingly neverending armada of young musicians seeking to bend the sounds of aggression pioneered by punk and metal into something new. Some were dizzyingly technical; others pushed their rage into oddly neat staccato spaces that marched with lock-step precision. But for me, the best records were those that utilized a nervous, feral simplicity. Records like Kittens' Bazooka and the Hustler, or Drive Like Jehu's Yank Crime worked because they managed to make the most chaos out of the least parts. Even at the latter album's most labyrinthine points—when each player's contribution twisted around its counterparts like a nest of (hot?) snakes—the pieces themselves were quite direct. It was the way that they danced with (and against) each other that set off a unhinged and brutal ballet of power as real and primal as a glob of glottal spit.
The thing is, aside from actual participants in those halcyon days (such as John Reis and Rick Froberg's various bands), that scene had sort of played itself out. (Or I just grew away from it, unable to be compelled back by what I was hearing.) So it's unexpected and thrilling how successfully METZ have delivered a half-hour worthy of mention in the same breath as some of my favourite records, albums whose worth endures far past any awkwardly-named underground rock movement. It's hectic, heady, and absolutely heavy, but at all times remains plainspoken and, well, relatable. You get it instantly. There's real magic in the way that these three guys push and pull at simple shapes to form such compelling energy. METZ is the bottled-up sound of frustration, and that emotion does not take kindly to being contained. So track after track—"Get Off," "Knife in the Water," "Wasted," "Negative Space" all brilliant examples of this trio's stunning way with aural bile—songs rip at their surroundings as the musicians struggle to control them. Often, their instruments do punch in vicious, kinetic unison, but they're always threatening to slip off into minute bursts of feedback, drumroll-laden instability. That tension is played on masterfully throughout the record, making their 29-minute debut worth playing over and over.
Of course, in addition to the bands already mentioned, one other comparison from a couple of decades ago hangs imposingly over this album: Sub Pop alums Nirvana. Whether these guys have the pop instincts in them to grow in such a manner is not really suggested here, and is also kind of inconsequential. In fact, at first I was kind of getting annoyed with how much Cobain and company had been brought up in relation to METZ. It felt unfair and too easy. But in the end, I can think of no greater compliment than to say that moments on this album are as exciting as what Nirvana conjured at their most antagonistic and howling. And seeing as those were often my favourite moments of that band anyway, I'd say METZ have got a home in my heart for a while to come.
So I guess what I'm saying is: noise rock, I'm totally free this weekend. Or whenever. Weeknights are wide open, too. So hawt...