[Album Review] METZ- Strange Peace
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

Release Date: September 22, 2017
Label: Sub Pop Records / Royal Mountain
As Toronto’s noise rock ambassadors, METZ continue their streak on Strange Peace, the third goal in a hat trick of chaotic, powerful and intense albums that carry the genre’s torch into a new era of dissent and disorder. The trio pull no punches as the tape starts rolling on “Mess of Wires,” a blistering opener where frontman Alex Edkins chews out those who “preach only violence.” Hearing this, one can’t help but think of this year’s rampant, alarming growth of alt-right groups, their presence seemingly propagated by the online world held aloft only by a mess of wires. It’s unclear which side is “tired of losing” but one thing is for certain – no one is winning.

Remarkably, METZ sound heavier and angrier than ever due in large part to engineer Steve Albini’s handiwork, crafting a live room atmosphere for the perfect storm of buzzing bass, pounding drums and shrieking guitars. For all the noise they make, the production is sharp, clear and focused. Far better than the previous two efforts, Strange Peace lets each instrument breathe and bounce off one another in an exciting way that adds tension not in how tight or claustrophobic the tracks sound (like on METZ), but in how the group can really fill out a space, as heard on “Lost in the Blank City” or specifically the latter half of “Raw Materials.”

The songwriting is just as sharp as the production, as the refrains on “Mess of Wires” and “Cellophane” are legitimately catchy. Released ahead of the album, both singles provide small earworms that help distinguish them from other album tracks “Drained Lake” and “Common Trash,” which would have both fit snugly on either previous release. Though METZ trace around a familiar blueprint that they had already perfected on their debut, subtle additions of synth and additional percussion provide small layers of sonic depth that help to hold the listener’s attention. As for any noticeable weak spots, the tracklist does drag around tedious detours “Caterpillar” and “Sink,” which feel more like intros that never get started, a mere song idea stretched out too long.

Describing the songs on Strange Peace, Edkins states, “[t]hey’re about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos.” While you’d be hard-pressed to pick out some sonic peace from this line-up of pummeling punk bruisers (“Mr. Plague”) to brooding whirlwinds (“Blank City”), album closer “Raw Materials” provides the slightest respite in its instrumental bridge that builds upon a simple guitar arpeggio. The chord itself is definitely the sunniest or most pleasant sequence of notes heard on a METZ track yet, allowing the band to quietly and slowly build the rhythm elements back together before breaking away into an aggressive, invigorating final build. In constructing this deafening wall of a sound, METZ drown out the chaos, the violence, the confusion, and successfully find their own strange version of peace through the sheer power and weight of loud music.