By Matt Hume, October 9 2017 —
Very few Canadian artists are able to claim a spot on the Polaris Music Prize shortlist with their debut album. In 2012, Toronto-based post-hardcore trio Metz became one of those few. While their 2015 follow-up, II, didn’t collect accolades in the same capacity, it solidified their place as frontrunners for unabating noise rock in Canada.
Strange Peace leans heavily into the strengths that made Metz such a success. Almost every track follows their now-unmistakable pattern of quickly repeating short, unconventional riffs and slowing tempo at just the right moments so the listener doesn’t feel lost in a wall of sound. Though their general style remains the same, the album boasts genuine progress and range to enjoy.
“Mr. Plague” sounds like a classic Metz track on the surface, but is tighter and more precise compared to anything on their debut. The band shows they’re willing to slow the pace and let harmonious songwriting shine in “Caterpillar” and “Sink.” The grinding licks and jarring speed give “Dig A Hole” a skate-punk feel with a dark and modern coat of paint.
Seen throughout the record but most noticeable in “Lost in the Blank City,” Strange Peace flips the script on the traditional hardcore formula. The instrumentation feels like it’s doing the yelling while Alex Edkins’ vocals supply the underlying melody. With so much deliberate chaos coming from the instruments from start to finish, there isn’t a single moment of ease or relaxation.
The album is also produced by none other than Steve Albini, the man behind a plethora of renowned albums including Nirvana’s In Utero and the Pixies’ Surfer Rosa. In classic Albini fashion, the album carries the spirit of a live concert without sacrificing clean recordings or fidelity.
Strange Peace is available through the Royal Mountain label in Canada and Sub Pop internationally on Sept. 22. Unforgivingly loud and always relentless, it’s impossible to listen to the album without feeling like the Maxell ‘Blown Away Guy.’ And that’s exactly how hardcore should feel.