METZ seemingly set a new standard in taut, exacting ferocity on their second album, 2015's II. It was difficult to imagine a band hitting so hard with a similar degree of artful precision, but two years on, METZ have managed to beat themselves at their own game. Released in 2017, Strange Peace starts exploding the moment the opening cut, "Mess of Wires," kicks in, and for the next 37 minutes the band lays out a nonstop barrage of razor-sharp guitars, rumbling bass, and drums that go off like cannon fire. Strange Peace is a remarkably muscular piece of work, but all the more impressive is how musical this assault can be. Amidst the aural shrapnel of "Cellophane," one can discover a killer melodic hook and an irresistible shout-along chorus. The space between the ringing guitar lines in "Caterpillar" suggests these guys learned a lot from cutting a split single with Mission of Burma. The relatively languid tempo of "Sink" allows guitarist Alex Edkins to present some finely dotted jangle alongside his clouds of distorted noise. And the brief "Escalator Teeth" reveals METZ could actually boogie if they put their minds to it (though they're not going to do that for more than 47 seconds). Most of the time, Strange Peace delivers the same degree of bone-shattering fury that has marked their previous work, but as songwriters, METZ continue to evolve, and from a technical standpoint, Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach, and drummer Hayden Menzies have gotten stronger, tighter, and more intuitive. And if there were ever a band destined to be recorded by Steve Albini, it's METZ, and Albini's engineering on these sessions allows the guitars and drums to be appreciated as individual entities as well as part of an all-out firestorm. It's hard to imagine where METZ can go after pushing their sound and skills into the red zone as they have on Strange Peace, but with their third album, they've left no doubt that they're one of the most singularly powerful rock bands in North America, and you ignore them at your peril.