2012 was Canadian rock trio Metz's year. The Toronto-based band went from relative unknowns to Official Noise Rock Torch Carriers in the blink of an eye. Metz is their debut record on Sub Pop, and since its release, universally adoring reviews have compared the band to Touch and Go heavyweights The Jesus Lizard and Shellac, as well as Dischord artists like Fugazi and Nation Of Ulysses. I've been willfully ignoring the hype about this band all year, so I figured 2013 was as good a time as any to cave to the pressure and give Metz, and Metz, a listen.
My first impression of Metz was that, big surprise, most of the comparisons to other bands were less than accurate. If Metz had come out in 1992 instead of 2012, it certainly would've been at home on Touch and Go or AmRep, but frankly Metz just don't have the chops or the creative palette to warrant a comparison to my beloved Jesus Lizard, nor do they exhibit the ruthless minimalism that makes Shellac so singularly brilliant. And Fugazi...c'mon...not even close. We won't get into that. My point is not that Metz are a lesser band for not living up to these comparisons they've been saddled with by the music press, but that the comparisons are unfair and inaccurate in the first place. But I guess people need familiar reference points and record companies need sales pitches. Oh well. I'm certainly not immune to this sort of thing, and I will concede that Metz's “The Mule” totally reminds me of Big Black, so there you have it.
What Metz really are is a great, balls-to-the-wall, post-hardcore power trio. While there is certainly a discernible noise rock influence, these guys are basically just old-school downstroke warriors. That may sound unremarkable, but it isn't. The world has been sorely lacking in old-school downstroke warriors lately, so it's good to see a new band doing it authoritatively. They even sneak in subtle bits of melody and harmony, like those “Ahhhhh-ahhhh” vocals in album opener “Headache”. It's the little things that set Metz apart, and it's one of the reasons this album is so addictive. There really isn't a slow spot on Metz, or even a spot that is less than scorching. They ain't no noise rock band, but if you got a hankerin' for abrasive, unhinged post-hardcore, few bands operating today can approach Metz's intensity and focus.