Strange Peace is the third record from Canadian trio Metz, prodigious both in a live setting and in recorded output. Theirs has traditionally been a harsh, abrasive noise, but now on their third LP, they have begun to show signs of allowing some cracks of light into proceedings.
Recorded live to tape with Steve Albini, opening track ‘Mess of Wires’ follows on the tried and trusted format of past efforts, though there’s immediately a degree more space and depth to the output. This record is a study in economy, 36 minutes of largely frantic punk rock, but with a notable increase in variety. ‘Drained Lake’ displays an unmistakeable coiled intensity with a degree of innovation, its repetitive riff being layered upon with vocals and overdubs creating a maelstrom of noise leading to what is very much an anti-chorus.
By contrast, ‘Cellophane’ is as close to a pop number as this three-piece have ever delivered. There’s an insidious hook introduced at the chorus and a degree of room left for the melody to breathe that is at odds with past efforts. Efforts such as this and ‘Lost in the Blank City’ display the route forward for Metz to progress, in no way subverting or undermining what makes them great, but rather layering on new found subtlety, leaving air in the arrangements and reaping the rewards of Albini’s engineering nous with the pristine clarity you’ve come to expect from the drum sound in particular.
‘Caterpillar’ uncovers a more understated side of the band, with minimal percussion, though no less powerful for it. Equally ‘Sink’ is a study in variation, the vocals of Alex Edkins are positioned up front in the mix, mostly backed by drums and a simple, harmonic driven motif. When additional instrumentation is dropped into the arrangement, their impact is firmly felt. Closer ‘Raw Materials’ is a dissonant treat, echoing ‘Goo’ era Sonic Youth(especially the glistening mid track breakdown) to an extent but unmistakeably their own.
“The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty,” Alex Edkins has explained, and there’s always been that sense of unease inherent in their output. However, here it’s matched with a real sense of broadening the scope of their work, there’s more light to compliment the shade, and while never exactly sweet, there’s clear signs of a growth with this new record. Should there be a return to these shores in the next 12-18 months, this will be an unmissable opportunity following their coruscating show at Whelan’s a few years ago.