Metz have sort of a funny history, in terms of their original formation. According to Wikipedia they’re a “Canadian punk band from Ontario, formed in Ottawa and now based in Toronto.” Much more common, that is, would be for the band to be from separate parts, and then convene around one. And not that it isn’t understandable to want to move to Toronto if you’re originally from Ottawa, the latter a purportedly rough and sparsely commercialized capital city not unlike Hartford or Albany. Still, this sinister brand of punk rock they hew certainly has the excessive tension naturally attached to a geographic dispersement, or, for that matter, the ugly, knob-headed brutality of a classic Senators – Maple Leafs game. Sports are simplistic. Now, with Metz, who rip off both Queens of the Stone Age and Liars within the first two tracks alone, music is too.
So though the move to the eclectic cultural beacon of Toronto doesn’t stop them from complaining about being in a “Blank City,” the album does have one intriguing segment, which would be “Caterpillar,” appropriately slow, un-percussive and languorous, wedged right in the middle of Strange Peace at track four. For most of Strange Peace, Metz sound like they’re trying desperately to approximate the intensity and the exact yowl of Iceage (Alex Edkins even sings in this annoying fake British accent the whole way). I mean seriously, if You’re Nothing (2013) didn’t exist, you’d almost hear this album and think it was pretty original. I mean anger is certainly understandable these days. But when that anger becomes stock, becomes routine, becomes manufactured, then what’s sorely lacking is a sense of psychosis — like the schizophrenia we find with the finesse-laden TFCF from this year, or even the frenetics and imagistic lyricism of Evil Empire-era Rage against the Machine.
Strange Peace plays as if the result of production in some sort of punk rock factory. The sound is layered, the production is full, and the vocal usually pretty genuine — it’s not a completely uninspired outing. It’s their strategy itself that I scruple with, as if these guys just don’t think anybody will notice that what they’re doing is nothing new. I never thought I’d live to see the day when style-over-substance applied to punk, but Strange Peace is empty caterwaul, more like troublingly conventional rage than what its title claims to entail.