METZ has been producing a mighty big racket for more than a decade now. To celebrate, the Toronto noise-punk merchants have released Automat, a collection of B-sides, rarities, and non-album singles dating back to 2009. Listening to METZ isn’t for the faint of heart, as guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach, and drummer Hayden Menzies unleash a pummeling assault that will make your ears feel like they’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson. Although you might feel battered, you’ll want to come back for more.
Automat (Sub Pop) opener “Soft Whiteout” is a perfect example of the band’s signature chaos, as a slashing, off-kilter guitar collides with indiscernible vocals and drums that seem to be keeping time for a different song entirely. Fans of METZ’s debut album will dig the version of “Negative Space” from an early 7-inch single. Slorach’s bottom-heavy groove sets the tone early, as Menzies pounds his kit into submission and Edler wails “I’ve got to get out of this place/Turn, don’t know which way I should turn.”On “Pure Auto,” Edler sings in a Johnny Rotten-esque wail around a swirling guitar buzz, while the scorching demo of “Wet Blanket,” which was heard in the video game Grand Theft Auto, is another highlight. Here, a churning riff melds with the pulsing rhythm section as Edler sings “I wish you would/Stop the room from spinning ‘round,”emphasizing the unhinged vibe.
“Dry Up” seems a tad more grounded than most METZ fare and features mid-song handclap accents. The band recently unveiled a video for the song, which includes a slew of images from the band’s decade on the road.
It’s been said that METZ is seemingly comprised of three percussionists, because of the way their music beats on you. “The way we play the guitars, it’s not very strummy—it’s more jagged and percussive,” Edler has said. This approach is evident on “Automat,” which repeats a snarling drone for four minutes, and Edler’s vocals are altered to produce a hypnotic, robot-like refrain. “Leave Me Out,” which appeared on a 2012 single, is a pure gem that seems destined to become a concert favorite. It marks a more straightforward approach for the trio, with a snotty, singalong chorus, standard drum lines, and a fuzzed-out bass break.Automat is a must-have for fans as they wait patiently for another new studio album. Hardcore METZ lovers might want to seek out the vinyl version of Automat, which includes a bonus single featuring three additional tracks, all of them cover tunes (Sparklehorse’s “Pig,” The Urinals’ “I’m a Bug,” and Gary Numan’s “M.E.”).