METZ Tones Down Its Roar On Encapsulating ‘Atlas Vending’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Atlas Vending, the newest release from the Canadian noise trio METZ, aims to broaden their style and appeal while staying true to their junkyard screeching, wailing, and car crusher power. The changes they incorporate work incredibly well and while longtime fans may fear a grown up softening creeping into the band’s sound, there is still enough distortion and clanging for headache inducing fits, so fear not. 

Their previous effort, 2017’s Strange Peace with producer Steve Albini, completely honed their abrasive style to its zenith. For that offering METZ stripped down as slim as can be, keeping songs to a minimal length and simply pummeled straight ahead. Atlas Vending shifts from that by stretching out in length, adding new genre influences and focusing on vocals/lyrics as Alex Edkins (guitar/vocals) Hayden Menzies (drums) and Chris Slorach (bass) work to expand their range. 

However, the band delivers its most angular and migraine fueled track first as “Pulse” uses wall clanging drums, actively enraging repetition and violent ballistic blasts to show they haven’t lost any of their cataclysmic power. Once that is out of the way the trio open up by pushing a propulsive punk sound on “Blind Youth Industrial Park” which slyly deploys backing swells to pretty up the rubble and destruction. 

Menzies rumbling drums are the linchpin throughout Atlas Vending, setting the scene for the majority of tracks while angular guitars cut and slice before the bass rumbles and the trio slips into fuzzy tunes with flashes of industrial, punk, shoegaze and even power/dream pop.

“The Mirror” fits the clanging side of this mentality while pushing past five minutes of run time before the brief almost pop punk (for this band) “No Ceiling” scorches in a heavy Buzzcocks vein. “Hail Taxi” is a beast of a track touching on all of the bands newly displayed styles while incorporating shoegazing breeziness around big blasting breaks to wrap before two songs, “Draw Us In” and “Sugar Pill” expertly showoff the bands transition of styles. They both start heavy and aggressively clash, before moving towards dream-like distortion with feedback and scenic escapism flowing throughout. 

Lyrically, Edkins is grappling with growing older and all the issues that entails. The tuned down style of aggression allows his vocals and lyrics to hit home more than on past releases as he deals with everything from consumerism, the birth of his son, perils of social media and those ever present bastards. 

The band splashes in a short smashing hardcore stomp via “Parasite” but closer “A Boat To Drown In” demonstrates where the band is going as it spreads out over seven minutes with blissful shoegaze distortion around melodious riffs. The track displays influences from artists like My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth and Built To Spill as the album ends on a gorgeous note. 

Atlas Vending is a transitional album in the best of ways as METZ has proved they can create piercing noise with anyone around, now they deploy a wider scope without losing their foundation.

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