Concert preview: Toronto noise-rock trio METZ thrives on discomfort

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

Listening to II (Sub Pop), the caustic, cathartic new album from Toronto noisemakers METZ, it makes sense to learn the trio values discomfort above all else.

"In any thing we do I think we don't feel comfortable, and I think that motivates you to move forward," said singer/guitarist Alex Edkins, who joins bandmates Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) for a show at the Basement on Wednesday, July 22. "A state of discomfort is where you want to be. If you get too comfy I think you might get stale and you might not push far enough ahead."

The band's music is similarly restless, built on a punishing assortment of strangled guitar, abrasive noise outbursts and Edkins' tortured howls, which tend to depict the encroaching world as bleak and unforgiving. On "Nervous System," for one, the frontman labels himself "a bug lying on its back," helplessly awaiting the end.

"I'm amazed by the world we live in, and I'm frightened by it," Edkins said. "I'm always thinking about death, I guess. In the big picture … we're just pieces of dust blowing around and bumping into each other and getting stomped out. On a lot of days I think of us as little more than that, which helps to not get too wrapped up in some of the bullshit."

In general, though, it's these everyday frustrations fueling METZ's punishing sound, and Edkins admitted he's never been able to write a song without storm clouds gathered in thick knots overhead.

"I've never been able to put pen to paper when I'm in that headspace where everything's gravy; it's usually the opposite," he said. "Of course, the lyrics are usually the last part of the process … so some of the darker content is informed by the heavier music. But certainly what inspires me to write is often picking up that vibe from living in the big city."

For recording sessions, however, the band escaped the city confines, initially retreating to the same secluded Ontario barn where it recorded its 2012 debut - a decision born of habit that the METZ mates immediately grew to regret.

"In the process of making this record, there were almost moments of deja vu, and I don't think that was a good feeling," Edkins said. "There wasn't enough excitement as far as where we were, and I know moving forward we will switch things up because that's a healthy thing to do. The three of us are always interested in pushing things as far as they can go, and we definitely want to grow and change. It's inborn in the three of us. Since day one [of this band] we've expected a lot of each other."

The Basement

7 p.m. Wednesday, July 22

391 Neil Ave., Arena District

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