September 3, 2009

Test Spin: Municipal Waste

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At first listen, the hot-off-the-press new album by Municipal Waste is same old, same old. The band knows their ’80s crossover revival is a huge hit with modern fans of hardcore punk mixed with thrash metal at intensely high speeds for insanely short song lengths. Crossover is a dying art, and the Waste deliver their hardest to keep it alive. Listening to them is like shot-gunning a two-liter of Monster Java through the nose.
Massive Aggressive is another notch in a beer and blood stained belt for the Virginia four-piece. The new album predictably delivers the goods, business-as-usual: all the songs are roughly two minutes in length, sounding like Thrash Zone-era D.R.I. meets early Cro-Mags with updated crisp production values. However, the band understood what made their last disc, The Art of Partying grow staler than three-week old lukewarm Keystone Ice — a lack of variety and maybe even inspiration. Every song on that album was an ode to beer. So, the new album does away with the repetition, and brings the party through action and not description.
“Divine Blasphemer” features an Iron Maiden type twin guitar solo at the end, “Upside Down Church” kicks off with a Biohazard-inspired mosh riff and “Acid Sentence” slows down to a mid-tempo groove for a New York hardcore-styled middle break that initiates immediate headbanging. A huge focus on melody re-energizes the band’s breakneck riffs, and glimpses of ‘actual’ songwriting, from key changes to varied riffing styles drawing more from the punk side than the metal side of their musical equation … all provide evidence that Municipal Waste choose to remain relevant, even if filling a well-established niche with little in the way of competition.
Singer Tony Foresta still sounds exactly like D.R.I.’s Kurt Brecht, and the rhythm section retains its signature tightness. Massive Aggressive is exactly what its title promises, and is a severe return to form for the cheesiest, most energetic and fun band in punk or metal these days. They have a song called “Wolves in Chernobyl,” and that’s the chorus for crying out loud. And “Horny for Blood”? “The Wrath of the Severed Head”?