Music Profile | METZ

This past fall has seen Toronto trio METZ flash-frying audiences around North America and Europe with the brutally percussive, noise-pop sounds of their recently released third album, Strange Peace, but when ION calls up frontman Alex Edkins for a chat, he's back at home on a brief reprieve from road life. While he notes that he was working on an as-of-yet unannounced remix for a "psychedelic" band from the U.S. West Coast earlier in the morning, METZ's singer/guitarist is savouring the time off before ending the year with another week's worth of dates with bandmates Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums).

"In the past we've toured to excess, so this time around, and moving forward, we just want to be smarter about it and make sure that we're firing on all cylinders, that we're enjoying it as much as we can," he says, adding how the recent round of shows across the pond had the band buzzing, and not just in a tinnitus-kind-of-way.

Like the band's 2012 self-titled debut and 2015 follow-up METZ II, Strange Peace is infused with plenty of in-the-red guitar aggression and ground-pounding drum grooves.  That said, adrenalized and punky pieces like "Mr. Plague" and "Dig a Hole" sound especially raw and uncaged, arguably owing to a four-day recording blitz the band undertook during a Chicago winter with iconic producer Steve Albini.  Looking for an "earworm" to add to propulsive single "Drained Lake," which locks into a staccato rhythm reminiscent of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control", Edkins plugged in a Moog synthesizer and thought up a deliciously demented synth melody.

Strange Peace often makes for a fabulously noisy listen, but it also offers up some of the most atmospheric entries in the METZ catalogue. "Sink," for instance, subdues the trio's general slam into a hypnotic flutter of drum hits and the sound of a surf guitar trill buried deep beneath a phosphorescent wave of distortion . Edkins admits that the track is "very alien from what we usually do."

"Not that we had an M.O. for this album, but I think all three of us needed it to be a challenge," he says. "When we hit on something that made us scratch our heads, that's where we tended to get excited."

Edkins' nervous sneer has likewise evolved for Strange Peace. Though the frontman reveals that his lyrics tend to favour "a feeling more than a fact," the album repeatedly pokes at the idea of transformation, and how that can be both thrilling and terrifying.

"It was the rise of Trump-- so that was a very confusing time for most people-- and it was also the roll up towards the birth of my son. I felt a huge change was coming. I was feeling, perhaps, unprepared, ill-equipped, or unsure of how to deal with what was around the bend. That title, Strange Peace, sort of means that calm before the storm, that impending sea-change that's bound to come, but you just don't know how to react to it."

Despite this existential crisis, Edkins did come to a couple of concrete conclusions during the making of the LP.  The societal analysis he applies to "Common Trash" seems to suggest we're all part of the same raging dumpster fire, but there's a decidedly more utopian sentiment to his words.

"It's a sort of tongue-in-cheek way of saying that we're all the same, and we need to treat each other better. We have more similarities than we do things to keep us apart," he explains. "We need to basically grow up and get over the petty nonsense that makes us start wars or bicker."

Above the fuzz and fury of a METZ arrangement, that's a strangely peaceful thought.

Upcoming Canadian tour dates:

Thursday, January 18th: The Good Will; Winnipeg

Friday, January 19th: Big Winter Classic; Calgary

Saturday, January 20th: Starlite Room; Edmonton

Photo: Ebru Yildiz

Leave a comment

ION Magazine 170-422 Richards Street Vancouver BC Canada V6B 2Z4
© Copyright ION Publishing Group 2013