In this age of double-LP-concept albums and byzantine instrumental arrangements, it can be easy to forget about the power of sheer noise. It’s a simple mathematical formula: guitar plus bass plus drums multiplied exponentially by the number of amps equals tinnitus and the purest type of musical ecstasy possible. Twenty years ago, this was the standard approach; we called it grunge. Then, somewhere between the rise of Papa Roach and the fall of the White Stripes, loudness lost its foothold to things like “cloud-rap” and “dream pop.” Not that there’s anything wrong with a more laid-back M.O., but sometimes you miss that blissful ringing in your ears.
It’s a real relief, then, to hear METZ’s self-titled debut, a tight set of 10 gut-punch punk songs that, in 30 minutes, delivers the type of catharsis we’ve been lacking. The Toronto trio may have just recently signed to Sub Pop, but it’s spent years honing its craft alongside an impressive roster of icons and contemporaries: Mission Of Burma, Mudhoney, Death From Above 1979. And it’s easy to see why—these three dudes have a delightful, dizzying sound, one combining immediate pop hooks with ruthless, rugged guitar work.
“Headache,” the rabid opening track, sets the raucous tone, with stop-and-go drum beats and feedback-laced screams. And from there, there’s no respite. The feverish garage of “Get Off” and “Sad Pricks” gives way to the Shellac-indebted “Rats.” There are a few woozy instrumental breaks: “Nausea” sounds exactly like the title would suggest and drives the remaining three tracks in an even more delirious direction. The surprise standout is closer “Negative Space,” a cut that sounds as if it were dragged out of a time-warp from 1991, snarling, writhing and threatening to implode from its latent fury. It ends in silence but doubles back with some seriously twisted feedback, spiraling into the void in a manner that’s anything but gentle.
The best thing about this record is the potency: Every second is pulverizing, and there’s no filler to be found. It’s sort of like a roller coaster, the kind with 180-degree drops and unexpected turns and twists. And like any good thrill ride, as soon as you’re off, shaking and a little queasy, you want to jump right back on.