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If you’re a fan of Hardcore and/or Thrash Metal, you would no doubt have heard of the USA’s latest Thrash sensation, Municipal Waste. Since their 2003 debut Waste ‘Em All, the Waste have been consistently churning out “Crossover” in the vein of Nuclear Assault and Wehrmacht for legions of old-school Thrash fans, who are always on the lookout for albums which hark back to the glory days of the mid ‘80s. 2005 even saw them sign to one of the Metal scene’s biggest labels, Earache Records, and release their sophomore album Hazardous Mutation, which is quite an achievement considering most of their peers are usually left toiling in their underground scenes. Hazardous Mutation saw them leave behind the raw, 50 second bursts and present us a polished album containing 2:38 epics such as “Bang Over”.
And now, after two years of what has seemed like non-stop touring, the band spent late last year and the early months of ’07 writing and recording their third album, the appropriately named The Art of Partying. It sees Municipal Waste picking up exactly where they left off with Hazardous Mutation, where sharp and fast Thrash songs lasting no more than two-and-a-half minutes are the order of the day.
See, while Hazardous Mutation was not without it’s flaws (some of which it shares with The Art of Partying), the real strength of the album was it’s ability to mesh together fast, sometimes melodic riffs, with vocal hooks and frantic drumming all while keeping things somewhat fresh throughout the duration. The Art of Partying, however, sets the pace with the title track, then pretty much keeps it there for the remaining 28 minutes. Hazardous Mutation suffered from this too, but it’s so much more obvious on The Art of Partying that it’s difficult to turn a blind eye and claim “but it’s Thrash, it’s not supposed to be varied” like so many have before. There’s no “Abusement Park” to keep the hooks coming in the middle, and there’s no “Mind Eraser” to mix up the formula a little toward the end. The Art of Partying begins and ends on a great note, but the majority of the material is really unremarkable. Sure there’s the few hook scattered in there, and a couple of great half time sections, but I struggle to recall what part belongs to which song, and I’ve listened to the thing many times now.
Instrumentally the album holds up well, with Dave Witte’s manic drumming in particular being a highlight. The guitar work is solid, textbook Thrash playing, with simple powerchord riffs and rampant e string abuse abound, and the vocals courtesy of Tony Foresta are his usual fun, frantic shout. While the band aren’t virtuosos by any means, they are pretty tight, and it’s quite obvious that given the simple nature of their music, they would be more than able to present an extremely fun live show while not sounding like shit.
Despite The Art of Partying’s flaws, when it’s good, it’s some of the best fun you can have with a Metal album. The title track and “Headbanger Face Rip” are able to fill you with youthful energy after a mere 30 seconds, and would surely be great to experience live. The re-recorded, and extended version of Born To Party is fantastic too, with the infectious “Municipal Waste is gonna FUCK YOU UP!” section demanding many rewinds. “Born To Party” originally appeared on Municipal Waste’s split with Crucial Unit way back in 2002, and is definitely the highlight of the album. Coincidence? I think not.
In the end, Municipal Waste has predictably provided us with another enjoyable, solid Thrash release. If you’re looking for somewhere to begin with the band, get Hazardous Mutation, but if you’re a big fan of Municipal Waste or Thrash in general you’ll probably find it caters to your needs quite nicely.