METZ

Since releasing their self-titled debut record in 2012, which The New Yorker called, “One of the year’s best albums…a punishing, noisy, exhilarating thing,” the Toronto-based 3-piece METZ have garnered international acclaim as one of the most electrifying and forceful live acts, touring widely and extensively, playing hundreds of shows each year around the world.

Now, Alex Edkins (guitar, vocals), along with Hayden Menzies (drums), and Chris Slorach (bass) are set to unleash their highly-anticipated third full-length album, Strange Peace, an emphatic but artful hammer swing to the status quo.

"The best punk isn't an assault as much as it's a challenge — to what's normal, to what's comfortable, or simply to what's expected. Teetering on the edge of perpetual implosion,” NPR wrote in their glowing review of METZ’s 2015 second album, II.

Strange Peace was recorded in Chicago, live off the floor to tape with Steve Albini. The result is a distinct artistic maturation into new and alarming territory, frantically pushing past where the band has gone before, while capturing the notorious intensity of their live show.

“Recording in Chicago was a blast. We tracked fourteen songs in four days. It was the first time we felt confident enough to just play live and roll tape,” Edkins said of the recording process. “Strange Peace is much more diverse and varied than anything we’ve done before, which was exhilarating, but terrifying, too. We took the tapes home to Toronto feeling like we’d made the record we wanted to make.”

The trio continued to assemble the album (including home recordings, additional instrumentation) back in their hometown, adding the finishing touches with longtime collaborator, engineer and mixer, Graham Walsh.

From the ferocious opening track, “Mess of Wires,” we’re met by the sheer force and fierce musicianship we’ve come to expect from METZ. With the unhinged, post-punk fragments of “Drained Lake,” and the whirling, acerbic pop features of "Cellophane," the band's hectic progression becomes clear. But Strange Peace isn’t merely a collection of eleven uninhibited and urgent songs. It’s also a kind of sonic venting, a truculent social commentary that bludgeons and provokes, excites and unsettles.

“The songs on Strange Peace are about uncertainty," Edkins explains. "They're about recognizing that we're not always in control of our own fate, and about admitting our mistakes and fears. They're about finding some semblance of peace within the chaos."

With all the pleasurable tension and anxiety of a fever dream, Strange Peace is equal parts challenging and accessible. It is this implausible balancing act, moving from one end of the musical spectrum to the other, that only a band of METZ’s power and capacity can maintain: discordant and melodic, powerful and controlled, meticulous and instinctive, subtle and complex, precise and reckless, wholehearted and merciless, brutal and optimistic, terrifying and fun.

“Their whiplash of distortion is made with precision, a contained chaos. But you would never talk about them like that. Because METZ are not something you study or analyze,” wrote Liisa Ladouceur in Exclaim! “They are something you feel: a transfer of energy, pure and simple.”

In other words: to feel something, fiercely and intensely, but together, not alone.

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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