Municipal Waste – Electrified Brain (Album Review)

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Pure kinetic thrash mayhem manifested.

While the metal community often enjoys chiding less aggressive musical genres for lacking spine, occasionally a band comes along that thrashes so hard that they cause the audience to metaphorically leave themselves without one intact. But hyperbolic imagery aside, it’s difficult to truly describe the experience that comes with an old school thrash album so uncompromising and fierce that it reignites an entire scene without noting the exaggerated sense of exuberance it draws from its fans. Such is the disposition of Virginia’s own Municipal Waste, a band that is often credited with providing a healthy amount of the voltage that kick-started the long comatose American thrash metal scene in the early 2000s, and doing so by stripping away much of the progressive fat that built up during the early 90s and recalling the concise crossover variant spearheaded by 80s icons Suicidal Tendencies, D.R.I. and Cro-Mags. Now more than twenty years to date of their inception and raucous eponymous debut EP, their seventh studio LP “Electrified Brain” stands as both an apt exercise in career self-description and also a solid culmination of the elements that have made them a premier figure in the millennial thrash revival.

Though stylistic evolution is far from the top priority on this band’s agenda, there has been a gradual increase in the technical flash and flair that goes with the concise brand of neck-ruination in which they’ve continued to deal. In much the same respect as their prior full length studio foray “Slime And Punishment,” the continued presence of lead guitarist Nick Poulos, who is basically still the new guy at this juncture, has seen a level of pizzazz injected into these songs via recurring guitar solos that brings them far closer to the level of ambitiousness that many of their aforementioned influences displayed during the later 80s. His approach can be best described as having the melodic contour of Kirk Hammett and also the wandering quality of Rocky George. To be clear, Municipal Waste didn’t suddenly stumble into the more nuanced territory occupied by albums like “How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today” and “Best Wishes,” but when hearing the brief yet riveting shred runs adorning longer auditory kill sessions like “Paranormal Janitor” and “Crank The Heat”, it would become easy to mistake this for a full fledged late 80s thrash album if it weren’t for this outfit’s general aversion to breaking the three minute mark in a single song.

But apart from the technical gymnastics going on during the lead breaks, there is a polished and infectious character to the songwriting here that sees the band almost transcending their crossover tendencies. The highly developed and occasionally harmonically charged character of the riff work on beasts like “Demoralizer” and “Thermonuclear Protection”, which also sit on the longer side of the songwriting equation at work on this album, is both intense and intricate enough to make the average Slayer or Overkill fan perk up and take notice. And even when the short and sweet crossover high-jinks in sub-2 minute territory commence as they do standout crushers like “The Bite”, “Putting On Errors” and “Blood Vessel/Boat Jail”, the strongly metallic character realized by the dueling guitar work of Poulos and original axe-man Richard “Ryan Waste” Joy, along with the insane racket provided by drummer Dave Witte and the chunky bottom end with occasional moments of flair via bassist Philip “Land Phil” Kyle keeps the punk’s ear guessing and the metal head’s satiated. For his part, vocalist Tony Foresta proves the only 100% predictable element in the mix, though this is a testament to almost god-like staying power given that all the years of screaming his head off hasn’t rendered him mute, let alone seen his voice remain as vicious as ever.

As the old saying goes, don’t mess with perfection, and with an impressive slew of LPs, EPs, and packed houses on the live circuit now under their belts, Municipal Waste has raised the notion of sticking to one’s guns to an art form. Nevertheless, the committed fan who has tracked their career back to the beginning will note that the formula has gotten a bit more elaborate of late, so much so that one might speculate that the creation of the crossover side-project Iron Reagan by Foresta and Hall was partly to placate the band’s punk contingent who were roped in by their pre-2005 output. But whatever the case may be, the tear that this outfit has been on in the past few years has seen them even more ingratiated to the pure thrash connoisseur that goes for the flashier sonic mayhem unleashed by Exodus and Tankard, though this by no means leaves out the trustees of Wehrmacht and Cryptic Slaughter that have been in tow since the beginning. If impact-based, riff-happy thrash is your poison, and you like your portions to resemble a medley of appetizer-sized courses, “Electrified Brain” combines the concepts of fine-dining and fast food in a manner as iconic as when it was first explored in “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”

Released By: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: July 1th, 2022
Genre: Thrash Metal

“Electrified Brain” track-list:

1. Electrified Brain
2. Demoralizer
3. Last Crawl
4. Grave Dive
5. The Bite
6. High Speed Steel
7. Thermonuclear Protection
8. Blood Vessel – Boat Jail
9. Crank The Heat
10. Restless and Wicked
11. Ten Cent Beer Night
12. Barreled Rage
13. Putting On Errors
14. Paranormal Janitor

Municipal Waste is:

  • Tony Foresta / Lead vocals
  • Richard “Ryan Waste” Joy / Guitars
  • Nick Poulos / Guitars
  • Philip “Land Phil” Kyle / Bass
  • Dave Witte / Drums

Order “Electrified Brain” HERE.

9.1 Excellent

Continuing a grand tradition of no nonsense, straight for the jugular thrash with a heavy side of early 80s hardcore now more than 20 years running, rabid, Richmond-born, sonic rabble rousers Municipal Waste proves once more than success usually comes when not messing with perfection

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 9.5
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