Sticking Steve Albini and Toronto noise-savants METZ in a room together to make a record is a pairing that seems so innately perfect you wonder how it hasn’t happened before. It’s a match made in some sort of beer-soaked, dimly-lit, angry-dude heaven.
On “Cellophane”, the lead single off their new record Strange Peace, METZ embraces all the hallmarks of the legendary engineer’s approach. Albini has made a career off of working with bands to strip down their sound to its most essential components, resulting in raw, dynamic recordings that are as honest as they are unrelenting.
Recorded live-off-the-floor to tape, “Cellophane” doesn’t represent a drastic stylistic shift for METZ—the thunderous drums and discordant guitars are still present and accounted for—but there is a notable push towards melody and restraint. The song plods along, favouring Stooges-style hooks and a sustained, calculated tension over a cathartic release. The simplicity of the writing compliments Albini’s brazen production style perfectly, resulting in a tune that highlights the ample strengths of all its contributors.
“Cellophane” is an incredible reminder of the artistic nature of audio engineering. Albini has always been outspoken about his utilitarian approach to his work and maintains that the last thing he wants to do at the helm of a recording project is take control away from the artist. With this in mind, it’s amazing to think about the excellent records he’s had a hand in creating and how they all have such distinct personalities that extend beyond the artist. In stepping back and simply doing his best to capture musicians at their most genuine and elemental, Albini places his own unique stamp on his projects whether he wants to or not.
“Cellophane” would be a solid Metz song in any context, but what makes it truly captivating is the harmonious collaboration behind its white-hot intensity.