Metz – Strange Peace

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2017-09-22

On Strange Peace, the latest bit of noisy brilliance from Toronto’s Metz, the band’s debt to Steve Albini’s post-hardcore sonic legacy becomes literal. Albini served as the album’s sound engineer, creating what promo materials describe as a live to tape off the floor recording at his own Electrical Audio studio. The final product is Metz’s best album to date and an incredibly loud, bracingly intense and invigorating musical experience. The major difference between Strange Peace and its predecessors however is control – Metz have finally learned to let go and embrace their most chaotic instincts - even those that don't go up to eleven. As a result, Strange Peace offer some previously unheard of, albeit brief, moments of respite nestled within one of the best noise records of 2017.

The album’s first single, “Cellophane,” highlights Metz’s new direction as fully as almost any track on the record. Buried underneath all the distortion and shouting, “Cellophane,” often resembles an early Kinks song. To get an idea of what I mean, imagine “Scentless Apprentice” in a punch-up with “All Day and All of the Night” and you might be close to describing this bizarre new offering from Metz. It’s not pop, by any means, but there is more to these songs than just thunder drums and an avalanche of static.

“Drained Lake” with its chugging rhythm, and steely guitars, sounds quite a bit like Shellac but without the unassailable bleakness underpinning many of Albini’s themes. The track is a real mover and thumps along at a breakneck pace. Again, not quite a pop appeal but definitely more welcoming (and interesting) than Metz’s previous work.

“Lost In the Blank City” boasts a massive wall of guitar and a whole new level of distortion in what amounts to the album’s centerpiece. Think My Bloody Valentine covering The Jesus Lizard. It’s a slower grind compared to much of Strange Peace but what “Lost In the Blank City” lacks in pacing it makes up for in tone – this is an epic, rhythmically complex track which expands Metz’s range deep into an ocean sludgy grind.

Both “Caterpillar” and “Sink” offer major changes in dynamics. The former, a quiet (for Metz), layered guitar experiment with some barely audible vocals. The later, an angular beat and tone pattern is set over an almost meditative chorus: “All day long it's been calling to me.” Strange Peace for Metz is a bit like the most recent season of Twin Peaks – the beats and players are all there but it’s an entirely different beast under the skin.

There is no edge lost on Strange Peace. No one has sold out. Metz is most certainly not experiencing a decline in aggression, talent or willpower. Instead, they seem to be headed toward a new sound altogether. Strange Peace may be the way station between sonic epochs for a band no longer afraid of where they are headed.

Overall Rating (1)

5 out of 5 stars