Music Reviews


(Sub Pop) Rating - 7/10

It seems almost pointless at this juncture to discredit a rock band for claims of unoriginality. Sure, there were certainly moments in history where such key rock components as “distortion” or “the power chord” were innovations and punk was once considered something “new,” but even then, the appeal of these elements had less to do with how they changed the music landscape and more with the fact that, when put together just right and played with the perfect levels of songwriting and enthusiasm, the sounds they made were fucking awesome. A new rock band doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to tap into this awesomeness – as we’ve seen from the slew of great rock bands to emerge this decade – they just have to take those components and use them well.

Case in point: Calgary noise rock trio METZ. Did their breakthrough self-titled LP, released back in 2012, do anything very different at all? Not really, and there was little to be found on that record that couldn’t be adequately compared to bands 20 years their senior: The Jesus Lizard, Mudhoney, and Bleach-era Nirvana come to mind, and its release through Sub Pop – which basically started the careers of bands that invented their sound – should come as no surprise. But despite all of this, METZ was an undeniably bracing experience, a front-to-back assault of caustic, muscular shit-fits complete with blaring riffs that were as tight and catchy as they were completely off the decibel charts. METZ may have been borrowing blueprints in a way almost impossible to hide, but it was still almost impossible not to be floored by their debut’s inspired primal force.

Upon hearing the band’s second album II for the first time, however, I was a little worried that METZ might have almost been too good at their craft from the get-go. The name II for a sophomore album might seem obvious, but here it’s more than appropriate than ever: II follows its predecessor’s footsteps to the T, acting less as an evolution and more as a sharp, acute continuation of what made that album such a force to be reckoned with. For the most part, you aren’t going to find any new sounds or ideas that weren’t already fully explored on the band’s debut – METZ’s penchant for tight grooves, harrowing feedback, and gut-busting rhythms are as present and effective a force here as they were before, and they even manage to pepper in little noise experiments, like the studio-banter-y Zzyyxx, which nearly mirrors in placement of METZ’s Nausea. The exception to all of this is embodied in closer Kicking A Can of Worms, which founds itself on perhaps the bands most seasick and uneasy riff before unspooling itself in an acid wash of distortion.

Regardless, it’s undeniable that for whatever lack of originality one could argue, II unquestionably equals its predecessor in potency and vigor in just about every way, and will still be one of the most ferocious and laser-focused rock records you’re likely to hear all year. In a sense, I have to give METZ credit for not doing what so many young, savage punk bands do and clean up their act on subsequent outings, instead keep the full swing of their belligerent mayhem intact with virtually no compromise whatsoever. At every moment, II walls you with skuzzy, distortion-caked guitar and bass, robust drums, and singer/guitarist Alex Edkin's pained, throat-eviscerating howl akin to The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow, all while molding these ingredients into either a patient sludge-pop dirge (Acetate, Landfill, Wait In Line) or an all-out blitzkrieg assault (The Swimmer, Nervous System), neither of which sparing on hooky riffs and simple, shout-along choruses with timely efficiency (except for Spit You Out, the only track to mildly overstay it’s welcome at 5 minutes). It might be difficult to ignore the ever-present air of familiarity at first, especially considering how strong a beast II is burdened with following up, but considering that METZ haven’t lost even the smallest iota of ferocity and power in crafting their follow-up, staying familiar hardly feels like an inadequate trade-off.