METZ

To begin:

“I look at it like this,” METZ frontman Alex Edkins says. “You start a band, just as something to do, because music’s what makes you tick, the thing you dream about and think about and that’s it. You never think that you’ll be able to do it all the time. But then, for some inexplicable reason, people actually listen and latch on and the band begins to take on new meaning. All of a sudden there are expectations and pressure, real or imagined, to change who you are. It was important to us, when making this record, not to give in to that pressure.”

What happens when a seemingly irresistible force meets an immovable object is a serviceable metaphor for the music METZ creates, both live and on record. Now behold II, the concussive new full-length from what is arguably North America’s finest touring rock band. Written and recorded in 2014, after two years of constant touring behind their rightly adored self-titled debut, II is METZ at their most true to form—as pure an expression of what they do as can currently be committed to tape. The guitars are titanic, the drums ill-tempered, the vocals chilling, and the volume worrisome. Though they incorporated new instruments, (baritone guitar, tape loops, piano, synth, found sounds) and stretched out the arrangements, they still managed to “stay true to what made us tick in the first place: that immediacy,” Edkins calls it. “If it punches you in the gut.”

And does it ever. From the exhilarating grind of “Spit You Out” to the blunt-force thrills of “Landfill,” herein reside 10 songs as uncompromising in their ferocity and abrasiveness as any collection this record label has had the pleasure of releasing to date. To accomplish such a sound, the band forced itself to stay home and write for the better part of six months. Tracking was done in three different studios, in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario, including the same barn where much of METZ had been painstakingly assembled. While said predecessor was often “clean and clinical,” II is what Edkins describes as a “much heavier, darker, and sloppier” affair, with many of its roughest edges and ugliest tones kept intact. Its lyrical matter, Edkins notes, stems from a year of loss and doubt, of contemplating our relationships with death and the planet. “I consider myself a pretty massive pessimist, but a pessimist who knows how lucky he is,” he says. “A lot of things in everyday life drive me crazy: how we relate to each other; how politics, media, technology, money and medication influence our lives. This band, in a lot of ways, is an outlet.” What we’re left with is the sound of an already monstrous band improving in both subtle and terrifying ways.“We take our noise and our feedback very seriously,” Edkins says. “The more we do this, the more we realize there’s no such thing as right or wrong in music. It comes down to feel. And if it feels good, it works. This time we sorta said, ‘This is who we are. We are not going to clean up our sound, we are not going to hire a big producer, we are not going to try to write a radio song. We are going to be honest and leave the warts for all to see. We are really happy with how it turned out.”

People often wonder why Philadelphia's NOTHING are so damn loud. In the case of many artists, the volume stems from a preoccupation with negativity, misanthropy and the human condition. But while NOTHING's attitude lines up with these ideas, their personality isn't one that the band picked from a list of cliches. Instead, it's one that's been molded by the band's own experiences, from family troubles and personal tragedy to a string of bad luck that Murphy's Law would balk at. And that volume, rather than a selling point, is the only way the band has been able to translate the difficulty of real-life events into musical form.

NOTHING frontman Domenic Palermo got his start as the brains behind the late 90s/early 2000s hardcore/punk act Horror Show in the crime-riddled neighborhoods of Frankford & Kensington in North Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Horror Show's existence was cut short In 2002, when Palermo was incarcerated for an aggravated assault charge (to which he pleaded self-defense) and subsequently served a 2-year prison sentence. After getting out of prison and working the next 5 years under watch of Pennsylvania parole board, Palermo took a lengthy hiatus from music, entering a period of personal reflection that led him through a maze of death, negativity and uncertainty. Nicky returned to music in 2010, and founded NOTHING with the release of the demo Poshlost (named for an intense and quintessentially Russian form of spiritual banality). Following the release of Poshlost, Palermo met Brandon Setta, who would bring lush, rich soundscapes and a fresh approach to Palermo's vision for NOTHING and to the band's next two EPs, Suns And Lovers (Big Love, 2011) and Downward Years To Come (A389, 2012).

NOTHING then signed to Relapse for their debut 2014 full-length Guilty Of Everything, which was inspired by the events surrounding Palermo's prison sentence. The album's genuineness and widespread critical acclaim (from publications such as Rolling Stone, NPR, Stereogum, SPIN,Noisey, The FADER, Vogue and many others) seemed to forecast a new, more positive chapter for NOTHING. The band toured Europe and North America extensively in support of Guilty, and performed at festivals including Osheaga, Roadburn, Firefly, Budweiser Made In America, and SXSW, but this period was unfortunately brief. In summer 2015, while on the eighth consecutive month of a non-stop tour that had seen the band performing with the likes of DIIV, Merchandise, Torche, Failure, Hum and more, Palermo was mugged and badly injured in Oakland, CA. The assault ultimately left Palermo with a fractured skull & orbital, nineteen staples, and a drastically re-shaped perspective about his music and life in a larger sense.

That new mindset, which the band hadn't been able to realize until Palermo's injury, forced them to come up for air from the endless touring - "Like when you're in a car going 100 miles per hour and connect with an oak tree and everything behind you comes smashing forward," as Palermo put it. That was the basis for the band's new record Tired Of Tomorrow, which was recorded over the course of a month at Studio 4 with Will Yip (Title Fight, Superheaven, Touche Amore, etc) this past October. Even since the completion of Tired Of Tomorrow, NOTHING have faced new challenges and difficulties that would certainly have sunk a lesser band. As NOTHING were gearing up to release Tired Of Tomorrow via Collect Records, the band discovered that the label had been funded by the now-infamous hedge fund manager Martin Shkreli. After Collect Records and their entire roster eventually dissolved under the weight of the controversy, NOTHING were left adrift. Former partner Relapse Records got on board with releasing the new album, but NOTHING were not finished with their trials - just this past November, Palermo's father unexpectedly passed away in a tragic accident, heaping the band with further personal difficulties on top of their professional ones.

Yet throughout all this, the band has always maintained a unique stoicism alongside its apathy, one that extends beyond mere riffs and reverb. All the band's music, especially Tired of Tomorrow and Guilty Of Everything, have managed to meld past, present and future simultaneously into their approach, both musically and thematically. Borrowing from personal memoir and external works alike, NOTHING have worked the deepest influences of their youth & maturation into a package that's ultimately at its most relevant in the present day. Case in point: Tired Of Tomorrow was written before the Shkreli debacle, but as Palermo sees it, those events only served to strengthen the sentiments and ideas behind Tired Of Tomorrow rather than confuse its message. It's a mess to think about, but as always, the contradictions and paradoxes of the kind NOTHING harnesses ultimately lead to the greatest revelations, and the band's personal and tragic path has nonetheless led NOTHING to produce deeply heartfelt and inspiring music. Whichever way you want to look at it, you can't deny that NOTHING feels good.

Heavy Medical

Hey what! A sick local band from Philadelphia that sounds like Karp and Young Widows put together? Get the hell out of here! Don't believe the hype? Check out the link below. Good stuff!

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