The A.V. Club reviews a lot of records every week, but some things still slip through the cracks. Stuff We Missed looks back at notable releases from this year that we didn’t review at their time of release.
What, really, is the point of all this shit? The Canadian noise-punk trio Metz asks itself that question a lot throughout its self-titled debut. On “Headache,” the nature of inescapable pain is plumbed for all its agonizing pathos. On “Nausea,” the same is done for, well, nausea. And on “Sad Pricks,” the characteristics of said species are catalogued with the cold curiosity of a taxonomist. There are no answers offered. Then again, no sane person would seek advice from these guys. Luckily, Metz doesn’t acknowledge the existence of its listeners, let alone their sanity.
In particular, singer-guitarist Alex Edkins has some problems. Unhinging his jaw to shriek of senselessness and how bad his eyes burn, he uses “Wasted” as a blind, neurotic diagnosis leveled at anyone within earshot. The relentlessly mechanistic “The Mule” is an alarm clock wired to his spinal column; echoes of In Utero-era Nirvana bubble up through the blasts of static, but they’re shrill and inorganic, more Shellac than grunge. And the rhythm vivisectionists, bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies, subdivide the beats with whip-crack precision while bolting Edkins’ feet to the floor of the pit.
“Negative Space” ends the disc on an even more harrowing—and somehow less human—note. Punctuated with pulses of distortion and poisonous atmospherics, the song lives up to its title; a false ending and an eerie, minute-long pause gives way to a throbbing, apocalyptic spasm of sound, as if the band had shocked itself back from the brink of a near-death experience. For all its abrasion and denatured noise, Metz isn’t a statement of nihilism or finality; it’s a bright, exploratory scalpel making the first of hopefully many incisions.