METZ – Strange Peace

As raucous and fun as you want a METZ record to be.

METZ - Strange Peace

As raucous and fun as you want a METZ record to be.

Label: Sub Pop
Released: 22nd September 2017
Rating: ★★★★

METZ, it seems, have never heard the word “gentle” in their lives. If they have, it’s only been preceded by the words “be anything but”. The Toronto three-piece are the sonic equivalent of being constantly slapped around the face with a slab of concrete. They create not so much a wall of sound but an electrified fence of sound, surrounded by a moat of broken glass.

Since 2012’s self-titled debut, they’ve pretty much had their foot on the gas pedal the whole way. Whether that’s constantly touring, or throwing out another short, snappy record of raging punk rock (2015’s ‘II’), the band pretty much embody their own sound. They’re relentless and just plain thrilling.

‘Strange Peace’ is more of the same but, when it comes to METZ, that’s certainly no bad thing. They have their volatile formula, and they’re just going to keep on seeing what colourful explosions they can make in the lab with it.

One thing METZ have always done so well is the sneak attack; that quiet intro that lulls you into a false sense of security before blowing up in your face. Opening track ‘Mess of Wires’ does a great job of getting your nerves ready (and is a fantastic wake-up call when it’s the first thing you listen to at 7am as you set off for work a bit bleary-eyed). But the truth is, you never are ready. Fool me 11 times over the course of 36 minutes, absolutely shame on me.

The intro to ‘Lost In The Blank City’ almost feels like a countdown to an apocalypse; the ticking of the hi-hat and the guitar leading into a maelstrom of guitars, bass and drums all crashing around each like they’re trapped in a hurricane. You can see the doom-laden spectre coming from a mile away, but you’re still more than willing to let it wash over you.

And yet, while ‘II’ didn’t really attempt to reinvent the wheel at all, with ‘Strange Peace’, METZ have at least tried something different. And for the most part, it works.

‘Caterpillar’ veers slightly into Interpol territory, with its dark and brooding intro. Alex Edkins is given a chance to actually sing (in so much as Ian Curtis “sung”), which is probably a heaven sent for this throat. ‘Sink’ meanwhile sees METZ at probably their quietest, which for them isn’t saying much. The fuzz pedal is on, but here Adkins sits quite clearly at the forefront, not lost among the noise as is their traditional way.

‘Cellophane’ is the closest thing METZ have come to a traditional “verse-chorus-verse” pop song structure too. If anything, it makes ‘Strange Peace’ a great chance for those unsure about whether they’d like the band to dip their toes into the molten lava that is METZ.

Die hard fans of METZ may complain that, as the band have grown older, they’ve become a lot more careful. The band still prefer to keep things as short and sweet as possible, but there’s nothing here quite as viscerally intense as ‘Wet Blanket’ or ‘Rats’, the latter of which still feels like a sonic assault with pneumatic drills.

Where you stand in this argument will shape your feelings towards ‘Strange Peace’. They’re willing to try something different here, but it’s more towards the melodic or restrained side of things rather than running headlong into the flame on the other side. Live, you know it’s going to be as riotous as ever, and it is as raucous and fun as you want a METZ record to be. But for those looking for the METZ of 2012, you’re probably in the wrong place. For those looking to give METZ a try, but not quite ready for the intensity of METZ yet, this is the perfect starting point. Chris Taylor

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