(Photo Credit - Norman Wong)
Advance Review - METZ: ‘Atlas Vending’ (October 9, 2020) via Sub Pop Records
"When we go up there, it's like a switch goes off… a couple beers, then you're on, then you black out, then you wake up.”
This is what Alex Edkins had to say about being onstage as the band METZ, along with bandmates Chris Slorach and Hayden Menzies back in 2012. Since that statement, the trio has made a name for themselves as one of the best live acts going on right now. Only adding to the disappointment in 2020 is the lack of live music and the energy of so many artists, never to be expelled. This is especially stringent for a group such as METZ, who always seem to be pushing the limits with their sound and presence. Although having post-metal influences, they’ve aggressively maintained their authenticity. The new album, Atlas Vending, doesn’t lose that focus but drives it even farther.
The record begins with “Pulse”, the intense heartbeat of the kick drum pumps the life blood into the album and into the feelings of unease and paranoia. As a band from Toronto, this song was written when the Bruce McArthur case was happening. With all of the press and the reluctance of Torontians to leave their homes up until his arrest in 2018, the band relates this song to the current realities and the paranoia the current pandemic has brought this year.
The album breaks character, or more a stride, with the well-natured “No Ceilings”, a short, sweet tune that still rocks. “I found a love, I found a love”. It slips an easy mindset into the listener, an optimism that bleeds into the rest of the album, begging for multiple relistens. Edkins wrote this track about the birth of his son and how it changed his outlook for the better during the Sub Pop press release. Immediately following “No Ceilings”, in an opposition of tone, “Hail Taxi” goes from optimism to despair is the exact turbulent emotion this album exudes. It brings in the topic of growing old while never really letting yourself grow up, to live a spirited life with a little rebellion.
While “Parasite” is stressful with the idea of the “bastards” being around, the album ends with “A Boat To Drown In”. the title sounds meek, but Edkins says it “refers to finding a place/person/thing you love and immersing yourself in it, using it as a sanctuary from hostility and a catalyst for change”. Clocking in as seven-and-a-half minute song, this track makes for a killer finale, especially during one of their iconic performances.
Be sure to check out the live stream of METZ playing Atlas Vending all the way through from The Opera House in Toronto on October 15th.
Rating - 4/5