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It is with great disappointment that I must now admit that Municipal Waste did not turn out to be quite the Thrash Jesus I had predicted they’d be by this point in their career. Despite a brilliant few introductory years, the Waste have shown that they’ll never evolve beyond the adolescent speed junkies they were back in high school, and while their new spin on nostalgic riff antics was quite refreshing, they’ve yet to put a new spin on anything they’ve done since. The furthest they’ve ventured from their formula thus far is Massive Aggressive, which still sounds little different to the untrained ear and is not quite the refreshment needed after the stale, flat Art of Partying. Still, it is the Waste, and any given full-length album of theirs is guaranteed to at least be functional, if not enthralling.
The biggest change on Massive Aggressive is use of supposedly more “serious” lyrical themes and song constructs, the band moving away from its binge drinking, keg-tapping party silliness (which is as much to the poppy raver crowd’s tastes as the metallers’) to focus on violence and other crossover mainstays. This lyrical “change” is about as significant as the one affecting GWAR at the turn of the millennium, which is to say it’s not so much as a change as it is a refocusing. Really, it’s hardly worth discussing, as it is the longer, more developed song arrangements that I find to be the key alteration. Still keeping everything around the two-minute mark or so, there’s a greater emphasis on varied rhythms, with mid-paced moshing highly encouraged on some of this album’s best moments. Sadly, the speedy parts still overwhelm en masse, and given Ryan Waste’s low-level riff constructs (usually restricted to chugging or fast chord changes), songs still begin to run together, even over this album’s short (28 min.) length. An overemphasis on slower pacing may have been what doomed the late 80’s thrashers, but for an otherwise one-dimensional band like Municipal Waste, it could add distinction to their track list, see songs like “Massive Aggressive” and “Relentless Threat,” which are too few in number to make a real impact on the album’s playability. At least every song on here is actually a song, rather than some of the quick, disposable riff exercises that sometimes crop up.
So in general, this is still Municipal Waste as you’ve always known them: reckless, hardcore punk influenced thrash with angry shouted vocals and precious few slow chugging passages with which to take a breather. There are several moments that are ripped off from Slayer, GWAR, or D.R.I., but it’s mostly MW’s own brand of fast, chord-based riffing with the occasional power metal-ish harmony bit or lead afterthought. The production is “modern raw,” but with a fuller bass tone than most of these and not as rhythmically sloppy. Sound familiar? Well of course it does.
Crossover was never known to be a versatile genre to begin with, but Municipal Waste have all but exhausted its possibilities. Though there are a number of delectable tunes added to their repertoire (“Wolves of Chernobyl,” “Upside Down Church”), most is just padding for extending their career. More “Relentless Threat” you guys, and much less “Divine Blasphemer.” Considering the things that Cannabis Corpse is achieving these days, perhaps it is the Waste that is now the side project?
Municipal Waste, a thrash band who made a great album is 2007 entitled "The Art of Partying", tried to replicate their 2007 release and make an album out of it called "Massive Aggressive". Is this TAOP II? I would say so, but not what I expected. This album is a replica, with poor quality. It's quite simple actually, the band just wanted to make "Partying" even better and push it further by making an album such as "Aggressive" but to be perfectly honest and clear this album is absolutely painful to listen to, and it gets worse by every track. Everything is completely out of place, meaning that the instruments and vocals are completely mixed together and not playing at the same tempo or rhythm. This album may be aggressive...but definitely not massive in my books.
Now, about everything being "out of place". First off, Tony Forresta's vocals have really turned to shit and I just hate to listen to them on this album. It sounds so whiny and obnoxious that it's just really hard to get by and it's not an easy listen. Ryan Waste's shredding ability is something I have no problem with overall, but on this album? Man, words cannot comprehend how his playing and Forresta's...er..."singing" are completely out of place and mixed up. To me, it feels like Forresta's vocals have slowed down a lot and Ryan's guitar parts are faster than the vocals so it's almost as if Forresta can't catch up with him. LandPhil and the drummer (whatever his name is) are the only to members who actually stayed the same and did well on top of that! In other words: they were carrying the band, by a long shot.
This album, as some may clearly tell, lacks inspiration. Any band, whether it's Waste or some other metal band, shouldn't always replicate the same material release after release because eventually the fans will get bored and loose interest. I know I have. Shortly put: this album was really bad, not only because of the sound but also because of the lack of material. This isn't an album where you can just listen to it over and over again, after one listen you just get bored.
Well, it pains me to have to admit it, but the greatness that was Municipal Waste has now come to an end. It was a fantastic ride, spawning some incredible albums that all managed to keep an eye for brevity while sidestepping the simplicity that often comes with it. The thrilling speed, the raunchy punk yells and gang shouts, the occasional lead blast to accompany the archaic Slayer meets Suicidal Tendencies riffs, the whole 9 yards. Yes friends, the good old days when crossover was on the rise thanks to a small group of rowdy Virginians has left.
Yeah, it left a couple minutes ago when I finished enjoying this album for the sixth time, and it will start again the next time I hear it. Seriously, where would this band go except right back to the same winning formula that has already worked so perfectly 3 times already? If nothing else, Ryan Waste and company have learned the lessons of "Suicidal For Life" and "Devolution" and are not fucking with a good formula, especially by mirroring the wigger-happy sounds that began infected the NYHC scene when Bio-hazard hit the scene. There's no needless innovation here, no gimmicks such as overemphasizing a breakdown to the point that it becomes the whole song or doing metro-sexual whispered sections a la Machine Head.
In the interest of full disclosure, this is actually the weakest of Municipal Waste's 4 studio full length efforts. While the riffs are generally as furious, loaded with blinding speed bursts and wicked gallops right out of the Dave Mustaine playbook, the guitars aren't having much fun in the lead department. This seems to be resulting in a compensating increase of activity in Philip Hall's bass work, which is notably present "Media Skeptic", "Relentless Threat" and "Massive Aggressive", all 3 noteworthy examples of an increased tendency towards the hardcore side of the equation. Nevertheless, even without the occasion Kerry King moment, the obligatory cookers in "Wolves Of Chernobyl", "Upside Down Church", and damn near every other song on this album just cook like no tomorrow and accomplish the end goal of total annihilation of human neck bones.
While I definitely like the idea of a little more shredding mixed in, which was something that wasn't really a priority for most of the pioneers of crossover save perhaps the Cro-Mags, this album gets the job done nicely. Fuck the naysayers, fuck the politicians, and anyone else who puts creativity above quality. Yes, the lyrics are a bit less comical, but entertainment doesn't always have to be funny, it just has to be a blast, and while there aren't any blast beats to speak of on here, this album fits the term in most other respects.
Municipal Waste have been on somewhat of a roll over the past few years, Hazardous Mutation introduced them to new audiences across the globe whilst The Art of Partying saw the Waste at their most beer soaked fun. So Massive Aggressive should be at least half decent right? Upon first listen I found myself thinking, "What the fuck happened?"
Before the album's release it was known that the lyrical themes would be different on this album, shouldn't be a problem for a band with talented musicians at all, yet with the fun, or at least most of it, gone from their previous albums the music itself seems to have suffered. Opener Masked by Delerium really does mask the album, a nice nwobhm guitar line follows some pretty catchy thrash riffing and gang vocals. This is pretty much where the fun stops, dead. There is virtually no memorable tracks from Massive Aggressive, songs like Wrong Answer and Wolves of Chernobyl sound so false and forced that it hurts to listen to.
This is dull, no thrills, all filler crossover thrash at it's worst. To quote Lawnmower Deth this is purely "Frash for Cash" and Municipal Waste have really shown their true character by producing generic bandwagon thrash. It's sad really to think that there is some real talent in the band, Dave Witte being able to always give his best to the band and Philip "Land Phil" Hall gives the Waste a great punky energy with his prominent basslines. Unfortunately none of this is featured on Massive Aggressive, the music is dull and bland generic crossover thrash, Ryan Waste's guitar lines are so uninspired and boring that it makes you glad the songs are as short as they are.
Ultimately there are virtually no brilliant moments, Masked by Delirium provides the musical high whilst Upside Down Church's lyrics give a wry smile, this however does no save an album that should be so much better.
You could probably make the argument that Municipal Waste have only ever really recorded one album, but the good news is, even if that’s true, it’s a hell of an album. Filled with frantic riffing, busy bass lines, maniacal drumming and rapid-fire hardcore shouting (good hardcore, not modern bullshit), Massive Aggressive is the kind of album that’s best enjoyed when the listener is looking for something safe, rather than something moody and experimental. As long as you’re looking for some aggressive, break neck crossover, you’ll probably enjoy this album.
The musicianship on this record is top notch. The guitar playing is tight and synced perfectly, displaying comprehension of both rapid, technical riffing and flashy, melodic solos. The tone is excellent, sounding bright and full, but still fuzzy and biting. The bass guitar is also impressive, following the guitar but not mimicking it, allowing for many melodic bass runs and plenty of opportunities to stand out. The playing is just as tight as the guitars, and its tone is perfect, remaining consistently audible and powerful. The drumming is fairly intense, but could be accused of lacking real variation. It sounds pretty good, and is played well, but is not as impressive as the other instruments.
Vocally, this album is an acquired taste. I happen to really like Tony Foresta’s vocals after having been impressed with his intense, single breath shouting when I’d seen them live back in 2007. He probably doesn’t sound as strong as he has done on the last few albums, but his ability to fit so many words into so little space without sounding strained, out of breath or obnoxious is to be commended. His lyrics are fairly humorous, and he does a good job of putting his own goofy spin on traditional crossover thrash vocals. I can understand why his vocal style may not be appealing to some, but in my book, he’s consistently impressive.
The problem with this album lies in the songwriting. While enjoyable all the way through, the songs, however consistently intense they may be, have a fairly “samey” quality to them, especially if you’re familiar with the bands other albums. The album basically plays out like one 28 minute song, and while you can argue whether or not this is good or bad, there’s no denying that there’s a certain degree of formula in the songs. Cracking songs like “Wolves of Chernobyl” and “Upside Down Church” (which has to be the best name for a song I’ve heard in a while) are filled with scorching riffs and high speed solos, but it’s extremely understandable why people would easily get fed up listening to them, seeing as they don’t push any real musical boundaries.
While this album is probably my least favorite out of all the Municipal Waste records, I’m still willing to say it’s a hell of a ride. It’s intense, well played, and a hell of a lot of fun, even if it’s not particularly original. While I’d say that Municipal Waste probably can’t afford to push this style much further without some branching out (especially considering the mixed reactions from various sections of the fan base), I feel like the formula still works pretty well enough here, and makes for an engaging and exhilarating listen.
Do you remember a time when Municipal Waste were to many a breath of fresh air into a stagnant thrash metal world? A world which, following it's collapse in the late 80's against the duel battering rams of extreme metal and grunge, never found the ability to reinvent itself in a manner wholly conducive to a continuation of it's life cycle? Well sometime around the Waste's 2005 Earache debut "Hazardous Mutation" it seemed the Virginian's had reignited the fire in the belly of thrashers the world over, and the result has been beyond the wildest dreams of any thrash aficionado with new bands cropping up weekly imitating the looks, sounds and smells of their 80's heroes, desperate to jump on the bandwagon of 80's throwback that apparently has spread far beyond the reaches of heavy metal in recent months.
Fast forward to 2009 though and well, it seems you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Of all the many 'neo-thrash' albums I have reviewed, and many more heard, the stagnation in innovation and sense of increasing boredom is growing with every release. Whence it seemed 'cool' to rip-off all the obvious 80's names, the act now appears tired at best, pure plagiarism at worst. For all Municipal Waste's deficiencies in varied song-writing these days, at least they sound like themselves, an accusation many currently in their field could not stand up to. The album's best track by some distance, "Wrong Answer", is ironically just that because it sounds most similar to the many greats found on "Hazardous Mutation", when the band's songwriting felt fresh, energised, powerful and also fun.
Sadly though we have reached a stage with "Massive Aggressive" where for the rest of the album's duration Municipal Waste are simply recreating their past successes, and as is always the case when a band is seemingly out of original ideas, attempts to rehash past glories are never as good as the original. During songs like "Relentless Threat" the vacant space where the Waste were once an aggressive threat appears like a cavernous expanse, situated somewhere between the toothless guitar sound of Ryan Waste and the sound of near identical vocal patterns from Tony Foresta that try as hard as I may, are verging on 'annoying' after repeated listens. Selecting highlights is almost impossible as the similarity in tempos and feel right across the album is incredible; riff after riff failing to send my excitement levels into the red where once the next moment of exuberance could be guaranteed to be just round the corner.
When one considers that many 'neo-thrash' bands are as musically bankrupt as the Waste are here yet don't even have their own identity to fall back on, it paints a very bleak picture for the future of this style. Yes "Massive Aggressive" brings you crossover thrash that will still continue to be most excellent live, but with this release Municipal Waste are signalling the sign of things to come, much as they did 4 summers ago with "Hazardous Mutation".
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
Despite my general distaste for the comedy rock genre, I've always gotten something out of listening to Municipal Waste that I never did from, oh let's say, Tenacious D. Maybe it's their signature brand of palatable, two minute crossover jams that make you want to hit the beer funnel for all 120 seconds. Or maybe it's the fact that, unlike some other bands, their imagery is never overtly and ridiculously humorous. Listening to the Waste, I can never tell if I'm being made to laugh, or if they really are just a bunch of pseudo-clever surfer dudes who drink way, way too much beer. Whatever it is about the Richmond quartet that makes me want to crack up and crack skulls at the same time, they've done it again with their most current release, appropriately titled, "Massive Aggressive".
To put it briefly, Municipal Waste's newest album essentially represents the hangover you'd expect the morning after "The Art of Partying"; pretty damn brutal, but unquestionably less fun. With songs like, "Horny For Blood" and "Acid Sentence", we can be sure the Waste isn't going to sit down and write a ballad any time soon, but it's quickly apparent on this record that they've turned down the comedy a notch or two. While previous efforts were full of both fist-pumping thrash, as well as tongue-in-cheek stoner humor, "Massive Aggressive" comes up overflowing from Column A and a bit short in Column B.
For adamant Waste fans, the lyrical transition from surfing to social issues may be a difficult one to grapple with. But for those of you who can hang in there for the just-under-30-minutes it takes to spin this album, you'll find that it jams pretty hard, sounding more mature than their previous releases without deviating too noticeably from the crossover assault they've been known to dish out. Ryan Waste brings some killer new riffs to this record, growing musically without sacrificing any aggression, and Witte's drumming bangs along at an expectedly breakneck pace. Even on songs that shine less than the others, there is a marked growth in the overall musicianship that fans will immediately pick up on.
All things considered, "Massive Aggressive" is a solid effort by Municipal Waste, and their most musically competent record to date. It may not necessarily be your favorite, however - despite their growth in musicianship, it could use a few more hooks like "Sadistic Magician" or "Mind Eraser". And being the most serious of their releases to date, a lot of you are gonna wish they'd go back to writing about, you know, sharks and stuff. Still, it showcases some of the most original work in the new wave of thrash and is worth picking up for fans of the genre.
I have to say, straight up, I'm not surprised that this album isn't very good, but, as my Topic/Title suggests, I'm disappointed.
I'm disappointed because when Municipal Waste (MW) hit the then pretty much still stone dead thrash scene in the early 21st century they were a breath of fresh air. I'm disappointed because these guys clearly fucking love thrash and they are excellent musicians. However, they seem to be so limited in their songwriting that they just cannot progress.
MW play what could be described as crossover thrash. They are very, very reminiscent of DRI in their pomp, along with Suicidal Tendencies, Agnostic Front, Excel, earlier Corrosion Of Conformity and so on, along with more tongue in cheek outfits such as Wermacht and Spazztic Blurr. But what was so special about a lot of those bands, especially DRI - I mean they even called one of their albums Crossover - was that the whole point of being crossover was that they had been punk before it and were slowly adopting a metallic side - they were on a journey, crossing over to the side which they themselves may even have once frowned upon.
Municipal Waste have jumped in at the deep end and play crossover thrash without actually having come from anywhere and without any ambition to go anywhere. This is where the problem lies - this album is exactly the same as the last. And I mean exactly. And to be honest, The Art Of Partying was boring because it sounded so much like its predecessor, Hazardous Mutation - which is a good album!
There's only so fucking much music that a band can write that sounds exactly the fucking same.
The plus point for Massive Aggressive is the musicianship - there's no doubt that these guys can play. Ryan Waste's guitar playing is surely on a par with Scott Ian for inch perfect riffing. Dave Witte's drumming is the work of a genius. Why couldn't he have joined Slayer in the early 90s? Witte is close to Lombardo for pure thrash drumming intensity. Land Phil's bass is prominent in the mix and has a pleasing tone. Foresta's vocals suit the music perfectly.
The production is also very rich and warm, but the guitar sounds really thin. It has no heaviness at all. Of course, a Sunlight Studios wall of sound guitar probably wouldn't suit MW's style, but there is deinitely cause for another guitarist in this band, or failing that, another layer of guitar. Ryan Waste's riffing sounds too fucking thin.
There is a more fundamental issue though. Every track, yes, every track, sounds the same. The same manufactured riff, the same song structure, the same staccato vocal pattern. It sounds contrived. It sounds forced. It sounds like they have to write this because where is there to go? Sure, they could write some pure thrash, or even death metal, but that would sound contrived, right?
Municipal Waste, by their very nature, have limited themselves in where they can go. I cannot see where they can head from here. Where do they progress to? I have to add that bands don't necessarily have to 'progress' per se, with each release, but they have to show a willingness, and an ability, to make their releases sound different.
MW have to do something, that is for sure, otherwise they are destined to be known as a great live act - and they really are - who simply cannot write anything new. If so, they'll be forgotten in a few years.
I for one do hope they can conjur something up next time around which really sets the world alight, but I really fucking doubt they can.
30% for the musicianship, 10% for the production and artwork. 4 out of 10.