Toronto's METZ set out to do something different

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Any jackass can become a technically proficient guitar god. Spend enough time practicing in your parents’ rec room, and you too can learn to play “Stairway to Heaven”, “Purple Haze”, and “Eruption”, not to mention everything by Joe Satriani. Coming up with a unique guitar sound, however, takes some true ingenuity. Imagine how long Black Flag’s Greg Ginn, Hüsker Dü’s Bob Mould, or Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore had to spend mixing and matching amps and pedals to perfect a sonic attack that was completely revolutionary.

One of the brilliant things about Toronto’s METZ is the way that frontman Alex Edkins comes on like a self-contained six-string army, the singer-guitarist unleashing the kind of grinding, white-noise assault that makes you wonder why no one thought of it before.

“We definitely set out to do something different,” the unfailingly polite musician says, on the line from a Brooklyn tour stop. “We had no interest in making something standard-sounding or generic.”

By “we”, Edkins is referring to his drummer Hayden Menzies and bassist Chris Slorach. The three musicians aren’t new to the music game, having done time in everything from obscure punk units to semi-notable acts like Ontario’s Moneen. Having put in their time in the trenches, they were determined to make sure they did things right with their eponymous debut, the writing and recording of which was stretched out over a couple of years.

From feedback-spattered standouts like “Knife in the Water” and “Rats” to chugging bruisers such as “Wet Blanket”, Edkins and his bandmates come out swinging like they can’t wait to take on all comers, something you don’t often hear from a bunch of guys in their 30s who’ve been around the block. The trio isn’t adverse to mixing things up—there are swirls of hard-candy pop in “The Mule”, while “Negative Space” is the kind of anthem that gets Bic lighters hoisted in hockey rinks. But mostly METZ is a raging, ’90s-style assault on the senses, not to mention a serious Top 10 of 2012 contender.

Jaded by the music business? The men of METZ are anything but.

“I think we’re just hooked,” Edkins explains. “We’ve found something that’s really enjoyable to us, and that other people really seem to like it too. We also live really regular lives off-stage. We’ve had no problem paying the rent, so this hasn’t really been that much of a sacrifice for us to continue doing this. It’s mostly been a labour of love.”

That labour of love is finally starting to blossom into something more, with the Sub Pop–released METZ having been hailed as one of the year’s noisiest, most inventive, and essential releases.

“This thing that we’ve done at night, or on the weekends, for a long time, is starting to take centre stage,” Edkins admits. “We’ve all kind of put our jobs on hold for this year because we’re going to be on the road so much. I think what’s really cool about all of this is that we didn’t have any grand ambitions. We just wanted to make the best record we could.”

Mission accomplished. Take that, Edward Van Halen.

METZ plays the Biltmore Cabaret tonight (November 1).

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