Album Review: Municipal Waste — “Electrified Brain”

Of course we want to see bands push the boundaries with their music.  We love bands inventing whole new genres, pushing unlikely ones together or bringing their art to the next level, and even when a band takes a big swing and misses, we still give them kudos for trying.  We don’t want to see this from every band, though.  For some, the biggest strength is consistency.  If Amon Amarth ever made an album that wasn’t about Vikings, I think my world would turn upside down.  Similarly, Municipal Waste should never try to do anything other than Municipal Waste things, and fortunately, on Electrified Brain, they don’t.

“We’re not writing any love ballads to sell records,” says frontman and mainstay Tony Foresta.  Since 2001, Municipal Waste have been holding down the fort of the kind of nasty, grimy, sleazy crossover thrash that seamlessly blends the aesthetics and attitude of hardcore punk with the tight riffs of thrash metal.  It’s not the most complicated style of music, but when you don’t do it right, it just sounds like a mess.  When you do it right, it sounds like a glorious mess, and that glorious mess have put the Richmond, VA, quintet on the map with landmark releases like The Art of Partying and Hazardous Mutation.  Even 2017’s Slime and Punishment managed to tickle me, which just goes to show the level of consistency out of these guys.  Electrified Brain is another step in the same (and right) direction, although this time around the band did put more time and thought into their compositions.  Work on Electrified Brain actually began before the pandemic started, but when things shut down the band found themselves with more time to think through the songs, resulting in what they affirm is the hardest they have ever worked on a record.  “[The pandemic] allowed us to focus on putting together structured songs,” says guitarist Ryan Waste.  “We wanted to diversify some of the tempos and bring in some new dynamics that we hadn’t ventured into before.”

Electrified Brain is…something of a concept album, I guess.  Lyrically, it loosely follows the story of the band’s signature character The Deathripper, but, like, how are you going to argue that songs with titles like “Ten Cent Beer Night” and “Blood Vessel/Boat Jail” (with a rousing chorus of “LOCKED UP IN BOAT JAIL”) are about anything other than partying, getting drunk, drinking beer, having a party and partying more.  But do I care?  No goddamn way.  The riffs are too good.  They’ve always been too good, and this time around they are just as razor sharp and old-school heavy as ever.  The lead guitar work hearkens back to classic 80’s thrash, perfectly straddling the line between shred and cacophonous noise.  The gang vocals are righteous and anthemic. Every single song is mosh pit worthy; every single song induces hospital-grade whiplash from all the headbanging.  This album passes the all-important speedometer test for me, but most importantly, this is one hundred percent good time summer vibes.  This is an album you want to put on to have a good time to, and you will.  I can’t stop grinning listening to these goofy songs.

Municipal Waste is as Municipal Waste does.  Not only have they been solidly putting out killer thrash and positive vibes, they’ve also been expanding their DIY, alternative aesthetic with the release of signature guitar models, opening vegan restaurants in their hometown and, most on brand, collaborating with Three Floyds Brewing on yet another brew.  Clearly, there is no stopping Municipal Waste on their path to world domination, and why would we want to?  All we can do is puke, rally and join them.

– Ian

Electrified Brain will be available July 1 on Nuclear Blast Records.  For more information on Municipal Waste, visit their official website.

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