Those Metz boys sure do love making a racket. After ten years of raising sonic hell, the chaotic three-piece from Toronto have compiled Automat, a collection of non-album singles, rarities, and B-sides culled from their decade of existence. As noisy and savage-sounding as the bulk of their catalogue, Automat is a blitz of screeching feedback and dissonant chords, raging behind an opaque wall of studio effects.
Sounding like a blend of early Nirvana and Big Black, Metz have always been a band that focused on heavy atmosphere, and Automat shows the Canadian trio never more tumultuous. Employing a cocktail of howling guitar, plodding bass, and heavy drums to create a sinister and anarchic atmosphere, the twelve noisy tracks that comprise this collection highlight where Metz’s talents lie—as well as their limitations.
“Soft Whiteout” begins with soft metallic clicking, like the reading of a Geiger counter ticking off in the wastelands surrounding Chernobyl, before exploding into the smashing of discordant guitars and pounding drums. “Lump Sums” follows, surging with intensity and energy, singer Alex Adkins’ voice a distorted howl drenched in vocal effects. A 7-inch version of the song “Negative Space” is included, as well as a demo of “Wet Blanket”, showing a little insight into how Metz develop and fine-tune their songs for albums.
“Dirty Shirt” and “Leave Me Out” are two tracks that bear a particular Nirvana influence, and are an example of when the Metz formula works, with more of an emphasis on song-crafting. The problem with this collection of tracks, however, is that often the songs rely too heavily on style rather than substance, creating a mood without instilling much in the way of a memorable song. As such, several tracks on Automat come across as sonic experiments and abrasive jam sessions, rather than essential listening.
It’s hard to imagine Automat serving as much of an access point for those unfamiliar with the trio. But for longtime fans of Metz, this collection of angular and moody songs will surely do the trick, at least until the next album of new material arrives.