Published Oct 06, 2020Hell still hath no fury like the band METZ. The Toronto noise rockers are functioning like a well-oiled and lethally dangerous machine on their fourth album, Atlas Vending. Hayden Menzies hits the drums like he's trying to break them — or, if he can't break them, then beat them into the ground. Chris Slorach's bass makes it feel like the Earth's gravitational force has suddenly tripled. Alex Edkins plays his guitar as if he's wildly hacking and slashing his way through an unholy tangle of thorny vines and barbed wire. Your fingers might start to bleed just listening to some of these riffs. (Turn it up loud enough and your ears might, too.)
Following up 2017's confident and mature Strange Peace, METZ return with a record that's as loud, energetic and chaotic as ever — if not more so — while also being their most astutely developed. Atlas Vending is highly dimensional and articulate in its noisiness. It's like the bright lightning of Drive Like Jehu meets the rolling thunder of the Jesus Lizard, with the underworldly dark-rock of Young Widows keeping things on edge. Guided this time by Seth Manchester (Daughters, Lingua Ignota, the Body), the band expertly layer their steady and propulsive rhythms under a crooked, abrasive frenzy of guitar, with Edkins shouting dispatches from the dysfunctional maze of modern society through the clamour of it all.
The metronomic dissonance and pummelling beat of "Pulse" is a Daughters-esque sensory assault that's sure to get your blood pumping. (Note: If your pulse is anything like this, seek medical attention.) "Blind Youth Industrial Park" is a four-on-the-floor stomper that makes use of ominous contrasts. "Draw Us In" channels the janky, twangy riffs of In Utero. "Framed by the Comets Tail" leans on bent harmonics that feel like a hypnotic trigger or the tick-tock of a countdown to something horrible. "The Mirror" sounds like wires reaching their tensile limit and violently snapping. "A Boat to Drown In" rushes like a river that you'll think is safe on the surface before being swallowed by the undertow. This imagery is all quite threatening. Given that Edkins spends the album exploring topics such as social anxiety, addiction, isolation, restlessness and paranoia, it's also quite fitting. "Can't seem to find a way to get free," he intones early on.
But the main highlight of Atlas Vending has to be "Hail Taxi," a song that shows what happens when twinkling Britpop meets the sledgehammer of noise rock. Half of it is pulverizing, and the other half is genuinely pretty — not a word that normally describes METZ's music. The band have lost none of their viciousness; their eagerness to explore a softer side just gives them more of a reason to linger in your head long after the song has ended — and it makes it harder to predict the next deafening blow. METZ are an animal that's evolved to its benefit, with an appetite that's more refined and teeth that are still razor sharp. (Royal Mountain/Sub Pop)