Sometimes I think that music should be just plain and amusing. You need to hear something that would cause you pleasure and excitement, without making you think, or be concerned about several issues. When your ears tend to refrain from complicated, multi-level, peculiarly crafted, progressive patterns and artistic leads, longing for raw energy and dynamism, there are bands that fulfill that need decently.
One of them are Municipal Waste, the not-so-serious-after-all noise pollutants, party lovers and beer drinkers from Richmond, Virginia. For over twenty years, these guys have offered amusement with their in-your-face crossover/thrash, promoting a culture of mossing, partying and humor. Until now, they haven’t shown any tendency to diversify their music; but after all, some bands aren’t made for changes!
Actually, after “The Art of Partying” (2007) they somehow lost their way, releasing mediocre, dull albums. However, five years ago, “Slime and Punishment” signified their comeback to the familiar, exploding standards: pure, old-school thrash, enriched with some strokes of heavy metal and a rather constricted crossover element. Now, after releasing the intermediate “The Last Rager” EP (2019) as an “appetizer”, they return with their seventh album, “Electrified Brain” (their third work with Nuclear Blast).
As the title predisposes, the purpose of the album is the electrification of your brain (and of course the damage of your neck). As such, it follows the usual Municipal Waste’s perception, being nothing more than a half an hour injection of adrenaline, full of straightforward, aggressive, thrash/crossover themes. Of course, no one should expect considerable breakthroughs; Municipal Waste, in their close-mindedness, cannot deviate from their musical route (let alone their waggish attitude). Why should they do it now?
In that sense, “Electrified Brain” is another addition to the path these hoots from Richmond follow. Plentiful up-tempo, sharp riffs by Waste and Poulos, inspired by Bay Area heroes, send you directly to the nearest pit, rhythmic heavy patterns that intervene, no matter how familiar they sound, raise addiction, preventing the listener from disengaging, and Foresta’s exhilarating, “pouring-out”, “punkish” performance, supported by the others’ hooliganic vocals, reminds us of the band’s first albums.
However, this time the crossover element is complemented by a more heavy-metallic orientation, indicating the band’s influences; you could hear an initial form of this tendency in “Slime and Punishment”, but now it becomes more apparent. Municipal Waste adopt this slightly different approach in a way that’s perfectly compatible with their crossover self; in a sense, they revisit their (rawer) past, through a more traditional manner. Anyway, the addition of a second guitarist in the last six years (Nick Poulos), has allowed them to become more accurate and technical, and meddle in things that they didn’t do in the past. Now, each song has its own lead (and even solo), and several melodic themes offer a new perspective to the band’s sound.
Glimpses of classic heavy metal can be found in many instances, like the self-titled, opening song, “Demoralizer” and “Paranormal Janitor”, while in “High Speed Steel” Municipal Waste pay a short visit to the borders of speed metal. Of course, extremely fast, short, in-your-face dynamites are also present: “The Bite”, “Blood Vessel / Boat Jail” and -notably- “Putting on Errors” are representative examples of sonic “ass-kickers”.
“Electrified Brain” is a top-notch thrash album of this year: hellish, robust, meticulous, full of vitality and energy, intended to make people have fun. The band, supported by a production team who have showcased their stuff, has worked elaborately, remaining open-hearted and unrestrained. Of course, the album isn’t something unexpected; but the band’s old-school character, infused with selective doses of melody, form a well-received outcome that works well. On top of all that, you hear an enthusiastic band who love to play. Beers and a little mosh is all you/they need.
PS: If you’re seekers of easter eggs, I challenge you to find a Scorpions’ riff somewhere!