I first saw Metz on their first UK tour in Brighton, 2013. It was a cold, wet November evening, and they played in The Haunt to what must have been 20 to 30 people. Still one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to. I got to see them twice after that, once in Brighton to a bigger crowd, a few hundred, at the Concorde 2, 2015, and then in London at The Garage to a nearly sold-out crowd of just under 1000 people, 2017. Last month, I got to see Metz perform at Chalk, the venue formerly known as The Haunt, once again on a cold and wet winter evening.
I have been a huge fan of the band since their first release in 2012. To have seen their progression from that first Brighton show to their near sold-out London show was something incredible to witness and be part of. Their three studio albums have been incredible pieces of work and noise is probably most synonymous with the group’s sound.
Critics have labeled Metz as taking influence from punk rock, grunge, and noise bands but affirm that the trio is no zeitgeist to the late 80s/ early 90s scene. Metz is a tight unit with its own sound and style. With crunching riffs, fuzzy bass, and pounding drums, the vocals sit very nicely in the mix with their signature distorted and reverb vocal effects.
On record, the music sounds very close but also very far. I can only compare this to how a band sounds different when performing in a small room and then a warehouse-sized room. For example, the first track called ‘Headache’ from their debut self-titled album has the feel it was recorded in an empty church, but with the intensity that comes with a small room performance. Their first album showcases this explicitly, and likewise with their second album ‘II’ on the song ‘The Swimmer’. Their third album ‘Strange Peace’ follows this pattern but with a few variations. ‘Strange Peace’ was recorded by the legendary Steve Albini, and with his help, Metz created a more left-field album with tracks such as sink, and the instrumental, lost in a blank city. It’s hard to decide my favourite as I think all three albums are incredible pieces of work.
Metz has outdone themselves for every release. This was evident with each tour I saw them on. Their 2013 show was one of the most intense shows I’ve seen. Everyone there was so into the music; people were climbing walls, and the crowd moved as one. Their first album was perfect for these small garage type shows, but their second album expanded their capabilities to larger venues with some fresh, catchier songs like ‘Spit You Out’. By the time I saw them in London in 2017 they were experimenting with live improvisation and experimenting on stage (listen to the song ‘Caterpillar’), something they hadn’t done before, or at least something I hadn’t seen before.
Their Brighton show on the 6th December 2019 was almost a throwback to their earlier performances, mainly due to their recent release of the compilation album ‘Automat’: a collection of b-sides and rarities from 2009 and 2010. The trio rattled through a relatively short set, mainly performing songs from their first two albums and ‘Automat’. While I was hoping to witness some of the experimentation I had seen from their Strange Peace tour, the band did deliver a high-energy show, and it was great to see a similar performance to the one in 2013.
It has always been amazing seeing Metz. Their debut album is possibly going to be my album of the decade. I was also delighted to find out the night after their Brighton show the band was heading to London to play a support show for Idles at Alexander Palace. It still baffles and delights me to think of the sweaty trio performing in the grotty Haunt back in 2013, and now, to be performing in the 10,000 capacity London venue. Their next studio album is eagerly anticipated and I hope you give them a chance.
‘Automat’ is out now on Sub Pop Records.