Album Review: METZ, “Strange Peace”

Strange Peace

The cover of METZ’s third album, Strange Peace.

by Julian Hernandez

METZ is a three-piece band from Toronto that’s known for its unapologetic attack on your senses. With their second album, II, METZ delivered reverb-heavy, post-punk tracks that varied in pace, but always did their best to ring your ears with explosive riffs and the raw yells of their singer, Alex Edkins.

It’s been two years since II released in 2015, and not much has changed overall on their newest release, Strange Peace. While their core equation remains the same, they have taken the liberty to experiment in some subtle ways that on first listen might not be so apparent. There’s still the same energy as their previous two releases, and the disregard for classic song structures is still there. What has changed has more to do with how they are taking their time to deliver their message on each track.

METZ approached Steve Albini – the legendary recording engineer behind hundreds of albums such as In Utero by Nirvana, The Power Out by Electrelane, You Are There by Mono, and Pilgrimage by OM – to help them overcome the obstacles of the studio that can often stifle the transmission of raw energy to the listeners. It’s that steady hand, alongside METZ, which has allowed them to experiment with new deliveries and perfect their aggression.

The intro track, “Mess of Wires,” begins with their classic assault on the senses. Hayden Menzies, the drummer, forcibly carries the track so that Alex Edkins, the guitarist and singer, can jump back and forth between question and answer. Chris Slorach, the bassist, gives no rest to the listener. A feedback loop connects the opening track to the second track, “Drained Lake,” and the guitar is soon joined by a chaotic fun-house of noise before Edkins proclaims “Forever getting nowhere/ But blindly staring into space.”

In “Cellophane,” METZ slows down the pace, which allows the verses to steep, highlighting their anxieties. Edkins drives the chorus: “How will I know it’s real/How will I know.” They won’t rely on sheer force to antagonize you, but they’re more than happy to oblige, such as on “Dig a Hole,” where the pace is frantic.

“Sink” is where we see METZ’ experimentation at the forefront. Where brute force would normally keep you looking over your shoulder, METZ opts to build the tension and anxiety with the layers chiming in and out, unsure what’s next. Edkins provides some of his most insidious vocals. There’s no wall of noise coming at you, there’s a jungle of sounds one is forced to traverse in the dark.

Strange Peace is METZ’ longest album thus far, and the diversity on the album keeps the thirty-six minutes feeling fresh. There’s no shortage of raw power and energy on this album.