Canadian power trio METZ have just one gimmick: They make livewire, chest-pummeling hardcore punk that's turned up to 11. They don't wear matching outfits (unless you count blue jeans), they don't have a xylophonist, and they don't have alter egos. They don't even have an entry on Wikipedia. They're just three regular guys who spent their formative years listening to Drive Like Jehu and Jesus Lizard records and now make a living punching holes through eardrums with their sonic assault. They played for a packed, sweaty house at the Frequency Saturday night.
METZ have spent the better part of the last six years distilling their hardcore influences on a couple of 7-inch singles, one LP (last year's self-titled Sub Pop debut) and a live set that is tightly wound and totally devastating. Frontman and guitarist Alex Edkins kept the stage banter to "cheers" and "thank you," and he and drummer Hayden Menzies and bassist Chris Slorach delivered an annihilating 40-minute set. Headbanging was at a maximum level, so much that Edkins donned one of those things '80s movie nerds wore in order to keep their glasses attached to their heads. These guys are not worried about appearing glamorous.
The set list was something of a foregone conclusion; METZ's debut LP is sequenced like a live show, and the band ripped their way through it onstage. Not that this is a negative: The bullet-train thrust of their songs comes through more viscerally in a live setting. "Negative Space" played like the soundtrack to every meth-drenched hotel scene in Breaking Bad, as if someone might die at any moment. "Headache" and "Rats" felt like they might cause an electrical fire thanks to their unbridled fury. "Knife in the Water," with its windstorm of a riff, felt like being on open water during a hurricane, the danger of capsizing ever imminent.
As an added bonus, METZ lengthened their set with a couple of new songs, presumably from a future LP. (Their debut LP is only 29 minutes, after all.) If there were a complaint to be made, it was that METZ were so great that the sub-hour set made you wish for more, especially since the opening set from touring partners No Joy didn't deliver much musical joy. Then again, I'm not sure I'll be able to hear properly for a week, so maybe it's good that METZ's set didn't go on much longer. Less METZ equals fewer hearing aids.