Metz - Automat - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Metz - Automat

by Mark Moody Rating:8 Release Date:2019-07-12
Metz - Automat
Metz - Automat

Unlike most band’s formative periods of learning to walk then crawl, Toronto’s Metz emerged from the womb as lithe and sullen teenagers.  The trio has remained intact for their decade of recorded work:  Alex Edkins (guitar/vocals), Chris Slorach (bass), and Hayden Menzies (drums).   The dozen tracks of Automat consist of early singles prior to their first full LP and continues through with succeeding singles, one demo, and an alternate 7” take up until before the release of Strange Peace.  Aside from the demo of ‘Wet Blanket’, which one-ups the album version, nothing here is unreleased, but the sonic upgrade at the hands of Matthew Barnhart, who handled the remastering, makes Automat fully worthwhile. 

As one of the group notes at the beginning of ‘Lump Sums’ off their first 2009 single “that’s a badass sound” and so it is.  The opening tracks here evidence the lurching shudder of a metal structure pushed to its limits.  Edkins unintelligible vocals send a clear message of distress as do the submarine siren guitar.  Though only six months on, the ‘Dry Up’/‘Ripped on a Fence’ single shows progress.  Menzies’ drumming steps to the fore on ‘Dry Up’ as Edkins does a little more standard rock posturing imploring “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, yeah” as a nod to something a bit more traditional.  Boundaries are pushed further on the six minutes ‘Ripped’ where some lite psychedelic “oohs” and “ahhs” come in at the end coloring a huge wave of feedback.   It’s a bracing early moment.

The alternate album tracks here particularly pummel.  The hand over fist three-minute build-up of ‘Negative Space’ has Edkins staggering around taking his punches where he can.  His repetitive taunts have the impact of a latter-day Jim Morrison.  While the demo version of one of Metz’s most “popular” songs, ‘Wet Blanket’ comes off much looser and fiercer than the album version (which is saying something).  The song makes the most of the power trio approach with Menzies and Slorach particularly flailing away.  The underlying throb and race of a surf beat out rivals the similar sound of danger The Cramps used to conjure up. 

Later tracks like ‘Dirty Shirt’ and ‘Pure Auto’ show the trio at their most menacing, with the latter throwing heaps of uncalled for abuse on their instruments.  Falling in between II and Strange Peace, the closing ‘Eraser’ is another monster.  The song has a more conventional structure with a shouted one-word chorus and plenty of power chording, but would make for a fiendishly great live song. 

If only having three albums out seems early in a career to release a set of non-album singles, Metz proves that theory wrong.  When Automat really starts to roll several songs in it becomes a worthy addition to stand alongside their solid catalog.  Whether tweaking their sound here and there or creating a squall and riding things out there’s more than enough variety to keep things interesting and working in a natural progression.  Even if you have heard many of these songs before, having them compiled and sonically balanced out makes for a cohesive and attention getting listen.


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