Three slinky, slightly dishevelled young men step onto a stage illuminated by only a solitary white floodlight stuck inside the drum kit. Taking requisite places, they don’t commence so much as erupt into a volley of combative, aggressive songs replete with banshee-esque wailing, primal grunts and enough distortion to bring down the pyramids of Giza—from the confines of a Toronto rock bar.
Imposing, antagonistic, enthralling and so fucking loud, you’re afraid they’ll find the mystical “brown note,” capturing a live show by Toronto extreme music trio METZ isn’t an experience so much as a revelation. This is easily one of Hogtown’s—if not Canada’s—most potent modern acts.
Still, with overt humility, unassuming adoration for their craft and refusal to compromise with anything (even their own idiom), it’s not as if they act the part. Comprised of bassist Chris Slorach, guitarist Alex Edkins and drummer Hayden Menzies, this three year-old trio has been slowly redefining the state of modern heavy music note-by-note. While still in their formative underground stages though, with their sheer power, aural dominance and overwhelming presence, METZ is easily one of 2010′s greatest musical highlights…even if they can’t decide on exactly what genre to adhere to.
“We don’t like the word ‘hardcore,’” Edkins asserts pensively when trying to peg down what the triumvirate are up to. “We consider ourselves a noisy punk band. It’s impossible to come to one term and it’s almost pointless to try but while hardcore is a common thread in our past along with ’90s grunge, rock and stuff, we’ve been consistently moving away from that sound.”
Point taken. Boasting an inimitable style blending captivating, frenetically overdriven melodies with bombastic rhythms and adrenaline-fuelled delivery, METZ’s onslaught of guttural instinct is beyond the simplistic primitiveness of hardcore. Listening to the fracas, one senses a lot more going on in the band’s work: reminiscence of ’90s Sonic Unyon-supported heroes Shallow, North Dakota and Kittens.
Essentially, the viciousness and multitudinous layers of their attack belies the immediacy of initial mind-blowing aural explosions. While Edkins agrees humbly, he also notes that with latest seven-inch efforts the Negative Space/Automat and Ripped On The Fence/Dry Up (We Are Busy Bodies), the trio is still naturally branching into newer territory.
“We used to be a bit convoluted. At the time I just thought we were into challenging music, I guess,” he laughs. “We were pursuing our musicality but we’ve changed and simplified a lot. We’re more concise now and based on traditional pop songwriting like ’60s beat bands and British invasion stuff where they have those big beats and fuzzy guitars but know how to write a song. We’re a stripped-down punk sound with a certain primitiveness to it. There aren’t many twists or turns.”
Where there have been some rather impressive shifts with METZ however, is in the way 2010 managed to finally see the tide of judgmental concertgoers come around to appreciate these abrasive minstrels. While not featuring any single monumental/pivotal moment, after successful East Coast tours, gigs with personal heroes including Obits (former Drives Like Jehu), Mission Of Burma, Constantines, Young Widows and more, the year saw METZ finally garnering overdue respect for their hard work and inspired attack; instigated a well-paced ascension into conscious appreciation.
“I can’t pick out one great thing about this year but we’re on the way to a great place,” Edkins beams. “This has been our most exciting year in that people across Canada and in Europe—but more so in Toronto—has been overwhelming. I don’t want to jinx it but we seem to be breaking through the arms-crossed show-goer mentality. We can play and people are dancing and partying. It’s a new occurrence which is exciting and rewarding.”
Proud of the year’s accomplishments yet far from ready to coast, Edkins assures that with plans including more releases, expansion into the U.S. and Europe as well as more of the 2011 will find the trio spreading the delightful disease that is METZ.
“There should be an LP this year and maybe a split seven-inch,” he concludes. “I know we’re gonna put out more music and tour. We’re definitely gonna tour more ’cause we love it. We want people to come out, let go and have fun…that’s what we’re doing.”