Toronto’s Metz offer no-frills punk


Alex Edkins of Canadian band Metz performs at the Red Palace. (Josh Sisk/For The Washington Post)
November 18, 2012

Metz has no use for nonsense. The Toronto trio, supporting scabrous locals Regents at Red Palace on Saturday night, offered a master class in no-frills performance. They simply took the stage like workmen preparing at a construction site and blasted through 30 minutes of spasm-inducing, taut-wire punk.

Formed in 2007 but just releasing their debut album this year, Metz sounded as if it had spent the past five years practicing the set they played Saturday. That’s not true, of course, but they have traveled a path that scans like the 1990s: playing the basement, house and punk circuit, releasing a couple of limited-edition 7-inch singles and building up underground cred.

Selections from their bracing self-titled album (released last month on Sub Pop) made up the majority of the set. Fittingly titled blasts of coiled tension — songs such as “Wasted,” “Headache” and “Get Off” — got out of the blocks with stuttering riffs from guitarist Alex Edkins, which lingered in the air for just seconds before drummer Hayden Menzies and bassist Chris Slorach piled on. The results were pile-driving blasts that reveal trace elements of DIY punk going back two decades but crackle with the anxiety of our twisted modern age. Like the rest of the performance, it was remarkably tight, clear evidence of a band that has spent four weeks on the road hammering its songs into knotty, tightly wound perfection.

Appropriately, the highlight came on a version of “Dirty Shirt,” a track that appears only as a single included with vinyl copies of the Metz album. Barreling along with brute force, the song, and rest of the set, took on an added layer of intensity when Edkins lashed into a unhinged guitar solo that sounded like a power grid surging and then shutting down. Like the concluding “Wet Blanket,” it howled rage, boredom and restlessness, the hallmarks of the best punk — no matter what the calendar reads.

Foster is a freelance writer.

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