METZ – “II”

Grade: B-

Key Tracks: “Acetate” “Kicking a Can of Worms”

METZ named this album “II” because they knew it would serve as a sequel. They came out swinging on their self-titled debut album, and fell into the rarity of an instant classic punk release. Even in a crowded genre, the album defied genre. “METZ” was like a butcher, taking a typical post-punk album and rolling it into one long strand, making incisions every few inches. Their music is extremely metrical, in a way that punk and post-punk usually prides itself on going against. “II,” unfortunately, doesn’t quite keep the energy. But it is a proper sequel.

Sequels are difficult – how much do you acknowledge the original? On the spectrum of “Godfather Part II” to “Hangover Part II,” METZ here fall somewhere around “22 Jump Street,” or “Led Zeppelin 2,” in the acknowledgement that yes, it’s more of the same, but you liked it the first time. METZ have a formula to their music that’s distinctly their own, but they’re already deviating from it.

The worst moments of “II” are the ones where METZ sound like they’re retreading themselves. The band, surprisingly, suffers from the “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” struggle of recapturing a debut album’s sheer energy. The songs presented here are sometimes more forceful than others, and sometimes more well-mixed than others. “Acetate” and “Landfill” have energy to them, while “Spit You Out” and “Nervous System” could use a little boost. And while the balance between heavy instrumentation and vocals is usually balanced, on “Wait in Line” it is too heavily in favor of the music. The lyrics throughout edge on intelligible, but “Wait in Line” is the only track where they’re too muted.

Still, the band recognizes that they can’t completely recreate their first album, and they allow themselves some flourishes. There’s something close to a solo on “Spit You Out,” and there’s a tremolo bit on “Eyes Peeled” that could be mistaken for a solo. They break out of their own system a bit, more than they allowed themselves to do on “METZ.” The vocals on “The Swimmer” are more frantic than they were before. There’s signs that the band knows this is a brand that can’t keep going forever. And at the end of it, “II” still rocks pretty hard. They might not be able to keep this formula up for long, but it’s still working in their favor.

If you like this, try: There’s a hundred different ways I can go with this one, but I’ll keep it basic. One of the best of the year – Sleater-Kinney’s “No Cities to Love

-By Andrew McNally

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