I want to go to a show with no idea what the music sounds like, no knowledge, labels, judgments, just blindly submerged.  Like a child sitting before a piano with no precedence of formal training, what could be more singular, more innocently absolved from all messy politics than this ideal?  Yet, idealistic it remains, as originality is  impossible. Post-punk, No Wave, post-hardcore? I say it’s all post-Charlie Patton. Some labels are little more than bookmarks in time. METZ is steeped heavily in such a vast primordial stew.

Founding members Alex Edkins and Hayden Menzie cut their teeth on a healthy slew of raucous live shows within a tight-knit community reminiscent of D.C. in the ’80s. Ottawa, Canada, held plenty of restless, small-town energy in the early ’90s to host touring acts to riotous reception. METZ has been persistently tagged a post-hardcore band, mostly due to their influences from that era, spanning a range of artists of incestuous influence, from Nirvana and Jesus Lizard to the Louisville-Chicago contingent stemming from Slint, Squirrel Bait and Bastro, branching off into related alchemists of chaotic constructs that merged jazz, noise, and mathematically coiled testosterone, to the chunky riff-age of Swiz or Tanner, and the scrawled precision of Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes.

Before this release, METZ played shows anywhere and everywhere – in basements, skate shops, community centers, put out three 7″s with their first drummer, and moved to nearby Toronto, where they adopted drummer Hayden Menzie.  Out of this five-year practice session came a caustic reduction of influence. Edkins told Pitchfork that METZ’s objective is to unify all parts into “just one wave of sound.” Like their minimalist predecessors, Big Black, METZ advances this intent like a three-piece assault.

Sub Pop has smashed their head on the punk rock since its inception nearly 30 years ago, but it’s been awhile since amps have been overdriven on a regular basis.  With possible exceptions to Comets on Fire’s reinvention of Blue Cheer’s arena rock or the Joy Division-bent A-Frames, the PNW label has never submerged itself to noise-ridden depths that AmRep made its signature in the mid ’90s. Still, METZ’s first full-length tears fresh wounds in an otherwise mentally stable indie rock resolve entrenched in reverb and sprawling horizons of dabbling experiments.

Recorded in an old barn with the barest minimum gives this album an open-air sound, hurtling percussive blows in resounding bounds to affect a band-made reverb that makes even “Wet Blanket”’s chug-chug-chug guitar sound hypnotic. “Nausea” slogs through the Butthole Surfer’s graveyard to a Sparklehorse-inspired unsettled quell.  “Headache” and “Knife in the Water”’s drum intros are commanding to anthemic proportions, but ultimately, METZ’s incisions are never without relief. Their songs are crafted as works of collective unconscious with elements of dynamic impact to deliver them. “The Mule” plummets drums down a pit of repetition, brought to relief by a layer of blurred bass lines. David Yow-like vocals scream loony swear words through hostile tears, only to be tactically conquered by a fuzzed-out wall of harmonious vocals. Such is METZ’s heaviest duty, that lesson practiced from the towering legend of Delta blues greats to the last exit to punk rock – all dark and painful equals none at all.

[Sub Pop]