Reviewed: August 2022
Released: 2022, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Simon Wiedeman
Municipal Waste are a crossover thrash band from Richmond, Virginia, USA, who formed in 2001. So far, they have released seven full length albums, three EPs and four splits. They released their latest LP ‘Electrified Brain’ on 1st July 2022 through Nuclear Blast Records and they have been influenced by acts ranging from Suicidal Tendencies to Anthrax to Slayer. With the only remaining founding members left being singer Tony Foresta and guitarist Ryan Waste, the group have gone through many line-up changes.
MW do often sound rather like Suicidal Tendencies, but for better or worse, the former don’t really have contemplative sections like the latter do sometimes (for example, their instrumental intro in ‘You Can Bring Me Down’). Sure, you get slower and relatively calmer parts with MW but not so much the emotional lead guitar parts. Naturally, not all all punk fans like the idea of associating themselves with (very slightly) soppy people but as Municipal’s sound is so predictable and repetitive they do need to something else that’s interesting. Really they can be summed up like this: Sometimes you get fast thrash/punk ideas, other times you get moderately paced thrash/punk ideas, if you’re a little luckier, you’ll get some Iron Maiden twin guitar harmonies. None of the riffs stand out in any way whatsoever. Tons and tons of palm muting, countless power chords and plenty of more melodic guitar fills. All three concepts work for two or three tracks maybe, but fourteen? Not for me, anyway.
If the band are influenced by Slayer, why not have super evil sections in the style of ‘Angel of Death’s’ mid part for example? The only real Slayer influences I can hear are the crazy speed picked ostinatos and dark guitar fills, but almost ALL thrash bands have those! The lead guitar playing isn’t bad with its speedy shred ideas, but it’s not truly great either and if you listen hard enough (not that hard), you’ll notice that the guitarist doesn’t really have the fluency of respected shredders such as Testament’s (another ‘influence’) axeman, for example. Furthermore, the solos don’t have the nicest tone in the world. It’s not horrible, but it’s not warm, classic rock sounding if that’s what you’re into. Ok, fair enough, MW wigouts are cleaner than Slayer’s. Having said all that, the album IS good at what it’s designed to do. Rock hard without being too serious. Could the band have been so exciting if they used daring Japanese scales ala Marty Friedman? I guess that would make little sense unless the band have plans on ditching some of their audience and making it massive in Asia. I dunno.
In conclusion, the band should also be praised for not being super modified on computer, as who wants to listen to ‘perfect’ punk music? It’s all about rage and adrenaline, right? ‘High Speed Steel’ was a highlight for me, as the lead guitar playing almost has an 80s Racer X feel in that it has a slightly darker and more serious tone. Sadly (for me) such playing is rare, but I guess I have rather specific tastes few will care about. Again, really the album can be summed up like this: Fast thrash, moderate thrash. That’s definitely worth pointing out twice. Basically all songs sound pretty much the same, but they do have at least slightly different riffs in them. Many of them have a fair number of notes in them which is cool. Get the album if you’re all about having loud and fast fun, but I can’t say I’d recommend it for any other reason.