Obits / Metz The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON July 23

Obits / Metz The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON July 23
There was a startling amount of raw power emanating from the Horseshoe on this night, both expected from Brooklyn's Obits, and surprising from Toronto three-piece, Metz. As a term, "punk" has been bandied about and prefixed to death by now and in many ways, its meaning now corroded. Yet, without nostalgia, there was an inherently historical tone to the style and substance of this show, which featured members of some truly significant punk/hardcore bands playing in new and vibrant configurations.

Equipped with their own minimalist light show, Metz just destroyed with their colossal amalgam of thundering drums and abrasive, intricate guitar-and-bass interplay. Featuring former members of Moneen and Three Penny Opera, the band brought a rhythmic precision that was ridiculous and jived well with the flush force of Alex Edkins's rich electric guitar and guttural screams, all of which recalled Engine Down in certain instances.

By comparison, Obits would seem to have put on a more conventional rock'n'roll show, with wonderfully arranged, hooky songs. The trick is that there's ingenious design at work within their dynamic, infectious tunes, whose layered textures transcend simple garage and hard rock signifiers. Former Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes vocalist Rick Froberg still sounds like a one-man air-raid siren, belting out "I Can't Lose," "Two-Headed Coin" and "Lilies in the Street" with unassuming charisma. A more than worthy complement to Froberg on guitar, ex-Edsel member Sohrab Habibion conjured the even-handed cool of Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo for his only lead vocal on "Run."

Though an insatiable crowd demanded much more from the driving quartet, the relatively new Obits could offer no more than most of the songs they've written thus far, as well as powerful covers of Graham Nash's "Military Madness" and Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues." A refined kind of primal, Obits simply play rock'n'roll with uncommon expertise and an undeniable purity of purpose.