'Up on Gravity Hill' Finds METZ Evolving with Uncertain Times

BY Madison RyanPublished Apr 12, 2024


There is an unwavering ferocity to METZ's work. Even when they peel back their harshness, it's hard to escape their presence. On Up on Gravity Hill, this three-piece is armed with a sonic power that lets some light shine through the jagged cracks.

"There's no room for conversation," shouts frontman Alex Edkins on opening track, "No Reservation / Love Comes Crashing," and he couldn't be more correct. Much like METZ's previous releases, there's not much time to process what's happening before being thrust into this uncertain atmosphere. It begins with the same airtight drums Hayden Menzies is lauded for, but there's a distinctly new lustre here. Edkins repeatedly urges us to "feel love crashing down" like a mantra, adding to a glimmering wall of sound that ripples through this six-minute opener.

Four years ago, on Atlas Vending, the band started to veer off from their signature sludge in favour of a softer edge. Up on Gravity Hill picks up and soars miles from where they left off. With Seth Manchester back at the engineering helm, METZ delves deep into textures they've never crafted before.

This gradual shifting of sound is a reflection of a changing world — Like everyone else, METZ exist in a creative landscape that commodifies authenticity and humility, and they've grown to adapt.

But some things never change, and that includes the band's relentless energy. Menzies's ferocious yet controlled cymbals have similar energy to a flickering spark just about to blow, especially on "99." It sounds like a car speeding without a single break — there's a calculated confusion to the dissonance coming at you from all directions.

Edkins has never been quite as lyrically direct as he is on cuts like "Never Still Again," which features a sheen that places them closer to Preoccupations than the Jesus Lizard. "We push and pull, forced to fit that frame / Love without fear," he sings before launching into a glistening chorus.

METZ are at their dreamiest peak on cinematic closer, "Light Your Way Home." It's a moment of beauty that contrasts the harshness they're known for. In a way, this is the sum of all METZ have become. The swirling, shimmering guitar and bassist Chris Slorach's overwhelming fuzz create an intense backdrop for Edkins' charging voice as he reminds us, "It's never the right time to make it right." Black Mountain's Amber Webber offers guest vocals here, creating a perfect marriage of light and dark.

Clocking in at only 35 minutes — though it feels longer, richer — Up on Gravity Hill is a quick glimpse into a more earnest METZ. This doesn't sound like a band experimenting with something new, but rather a group of musicians secure enough in their craft to humbly evolve with increasingly uncertain times. 

(Dine Alone/Sub Pop)

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