Release Date August 4, 2021
One of the silver lining perks of the pandemic era has been an explosion of quality music from established alternative acts, specifically those of the less accessible variety. If tension and turbulence are the order of the day, then no longer will the coffee-shop-turned-car-commercial ‘alternative’ of the early 2010’s suffice, and a TRULY alternative option is what will stand the test of both these times, and time itself.
Invoking the legacy and intensity of Sub Pop legends past, Toronto’s METZ have built a reputation, both live and in studio, of visceral and blistering rock, edgy in sound but unpretentious in nature. Over the last decade in particular, their sound has flown in the face of both convention and imitation, all jagged riffage and pummeling rhythm in a world obsessed with hooks above all else.
One would argue that such a direct, angular sound is best expressed in live form, and certainly Live At The Opera House offers compelling evidence as such. Tearing through the entirety of their recent (and stellar) LP Atlas Vending, before a closing duo of classics, there is an energy on display here that dwarfs a lot of live albums made with the benefit of a full audience – unlike this October 2020 livestream recording.
From the unassuming yet uncompromising ‘Pulse’ through the freewheeling thrill of ‘A Boat To Drown In’, not a note is wasted, as hedonistic immediacy meets an economy of sound and speed, driven like a stolen car in a perfect smash and grab heist. Appropriate then that they close with Grand Theft Auto fan favorite ‘Wet Blanket’, extended in length and drama to a thrilling, cathartic climax.
Where the magic lies for METZ is in walking that razor’s edge between rational jadedness and violent purity. Theirs is a sound that harkens back to the inaccessible, yet oddly infectious alternative of No Wave and post-punk heydays past, while remaining rooted firmly in the present, too manic and abrasive to remain mired in nostalgia.
This then is a mission statement, a put-up-or-shut-up performance that stands among the best of the ’empty house’ live outings we’ve seen in the last 18 months. It seems METZ are on an upward trajectory lately, both in terms of output and exposure – this particular flexing of sinewy musical muscle certainly strengthens their grip on a very promising present and future. Apparently when life closes a door, METZ simply kick in a window, and wield the glass shards as weapons.