Growing up in the 1980’s and being an extreme metal fan meant that you were generally into thrash. Maybe some power metal thrown in here and there and maybe every once and a while you were guilty of turning on MTV (back when they aired actual music instead of shows about teen pregnancy and “true life”) and watching that Kix video from Blow My Fuse, but for the most part it was about listening to records and cassettes from bands like Exodus, Anthrax and Overkill with your friends and going to shows when you could get a ride and enough cash for a ticket to the Brendan Byrne Arena. The 80’s were some great times for metal and thrash was really the cornerstone that made it exciting. Of course the 90’s came along with Nirvana… and we know how the story ends.
Municipal Waste, as we all know, is one of those bands that brings the 80’s and its nostalgia to those of us in our 40’s and 50’s, while at the same time demonstrating how it was done to the newer generation of metal fans, who, for some reason haven’t caught Exodus yet in one of their several thousand opening tour slots over the past few years. The band uses tongue in cheek humor that was prevalent in some prominent bands in the golden years of thrash (think Scatterbrain) and has put out a myriad of releases that have done moderately well and help build a decent following in some major cities.
Their newest record, Slime and Punishment, is a bit of a mixed bag. Overall the band benefits from the added guitarist and the songs take some risks here and there, but there are those tracks that are really well crafted and then there are some that make you scratch your head a bit. And there’s a couple that, honestly, should have been left off or reworked. That being said, overall, it’s a good listen and I do like it better than 2012’s The Fatal Feast.
The first three tracks, “Breathe Grease,” “Enjoy the Night” and “Dingy Situations” set a positive tone. Guitars are heavy, bass is properly mixed, drums are tight. “Breathe Grease” is some straight-up “Toxic Waltz” worship and is sure to be a fan favorite live. It’s got some intense shredding, prominent vocals and a bass and drum bed that’s going to function as your own personal “hot tub time machine.” The breakdown section is going to make the crowds in the pit go bananas. “Enjoy the Night” gives that Frank Bello bass feeling in the beginning and cuts loose from there. Just be sure, by the way, not to “cut loose” on Frank Bello or there are going to be problems. The short leads really add texture and a bit of ear candy – as is found in many of the songs on the new disc. In all these first three songs are great. Things slow down a bit at “Shrednecks” which doesn’t work that well and fills a bit like filler until it gets to the breakdown. It’s a bit more crossover than thrash – which is ok, because we’re talking about Municipal Waste here, but more problematically, this track takes us up to the middle (and the middling) tracks that just don’t work.
“Poison the Preacher” and “Bourbon Discipline” just aren’t well developed or written and don’t stand up well to the first three cuts off the record. “Parole Violators” is simply not good. Yes, everyone loves Vinnie Stigma, but the song is so cliché and unoriginal, and the “dialogue” in the middle of the track hopefully didn’t take more than 35 seconds to write.
The rest of the record has some more great thrashers like “Under the Waste Command” and the magnificent “Think Fast” as the final track. But in between are a couple other misses like “Low Tolerance.” Songs like “Think Fast” and “Breathe Grease” are simply better written and more sonically developed than the more generic material on the record. Municipal Waste probably would have developed a stronger release with about 4-5 fewer songs on it. There are 14 tracks in all and most would probably be satisfied with ten standouts.
Aspects I do really love on this record – the mix, completed by Bill Metoyer and the clear benefit of two guitarists. There’s a heavier sound that’s still signature Waste. The guys are going to be on this year’s Warped Tour, still disappointing parental chaperones for years now. Should be an interesting experience with Municipal Waste and GWAR along with bands like Bowling for Soup and Save Ferris. Thankfully my kids listen to country music, so I’m off the hook, though I guess I could take them to the Warped Tour if they need new shoes.
Slime and Punishment comes out tomrorrow (23) on Nuclear Blast Records and can be preordered here.