Their critically acclaimed LP METZ on Sub Pop Records, should come with a warning sticker “We are not responsible for any neck or spinal problems, induced from excessive head-banging to this hypersonic spinner”. Tonight the crowds anticipation is mutual, on hearing how their sound translates from their record to a live set. Alex Edkins energy is through the roof at the crowded Dutch venue Tivoli, playing their first set at the Le Guess Who? Fest 2013, how they don’t burn out each night is any ones guess.
Their intensity and exhausting sustain, was palpable from the start. Edkins delivers some anarchy before veering into Can’t Understand by telling the mayor of Toronto Rob Ford to “f* off with your corruption” due to the mayors recent scandals. The recorded fuzzed out vocals come at full force live in Headache, at one point I thought his head was about to explode, through the ripping screams in Wet Blanket and Dirty Shirt. Although some of the lyrics are indiscernible, he could be singing about doughnuts melting in the dessert and it would still sound just as good.
A prolific guitarist, his riff glides are a roller coaster ride in pitch frequencies, tracks like Negative Space are brought to life with his distinctive short fret swipes down the tip of the guitar head, proving he is capable of way more than manic string progressions. Pushing his old Fender jazzmaster further without relying heavily on distortion pedals. Delivering tremolo abuse through lifting and shaking his guitar for reverb and playing blues guitar slides by using a beer can, his precision never wavers; even during the fastest and most frenzied moments.
Over the last 6 years the Toronto trio have skilled their live performance dynamics, allowing them to pull off those tight stop and header synchronised sections. Like MUDHONEY – If I think, they look like their playing a loose set, just having a good time. Their chords aren’t as memorable as a Dead Boys – Young Loud and Snotty, but their razor sharp drum processions, just places that METZ stamp on each cut.
Our summer times are our winter work times and our winter times, are our short summer breaks’ – Edkins
Its call for war on the intro to Knife in the Water Hayden Menzies exhausting and frantic end roles are accompanied by an epileptics nightmare, flashing strobe lighting which enhances his powerful percussive poundings, in ‘Get Off’ sounding like he’s hitting oil drums. He has honed his skills since his first band opened for Fugazi, newbie Warped Tour drummers could take some pointers. He’s up on my list of great sticksmen as Bill Stevenson, in Wet Blanket managing to keep that pulse in time without missing a beat and sticking to the rhythm with an ear to melody, relying heavily on open high-hats to generate those frenetic sounds as BLACK FLAG’s albums.
As the onslaught of noise continues, Chris Sloak’s powerful and strident bass strides just paves the way through Wet Blank with those ear defying distortion sounds. With a mammoth Gibson RD Artist bass, he just glues the chaos together, accompanying vocals in tandem with Edkins on Sad P***ks. As that crackling solid riff kicks in, a mosh pit forms and the complacent crowed start slam dancing into each other and head bangs comply to the beat yet at a moderate level considering the impact emanating from the stage. The crowed are floored by this excellent performance and so am I.
What distinguishes METZ from the generic rest are those tightly structured arrangements, they funnel through all the post punk and other marketed MTV labels, creating a hybrid sound of their MINOR THREAT to THE KINKS schooling years. They know how to keep up the melody, which other bands in their noise caliber seem to often forget in the heat of the moment by turning the live set into a mosh pit of incoherent sounds, just cranking up the amps for tinnitus effect!
It would have been interesting to hear some of their earlier work, such as the off-kilter Automat from Negative Space 2010 but this performance was enough to entice any one to want more, with anticipation for their sophomore record next year.
The band thanks the endless fans they have gained in the EU from their relentless tour dates, some coming as far as South America to see them in Holland, will be pleased to know Sub Pop Festival with MUDHONEY will be held, of all places in Sao Paulo in May 2014. This was the end of their European tour with the brilliant THE WYTCHES, before heading off to Australia and a most memorable one. The force of noise rock is meant for the shadiest of basements, lets hope as they reach the stratospheres they don’t lead down the path of clean cut stadiums.