Artist: Municipal Waste
Title: Slime and Punishment
Genre: Crossover Thrash
Release Date: June 23, 2017
Length: 29 min.
Label: Nuclear Blast
Producer: Land Phil
Personnel: Tony Foresta (Lead Vocals), Land Phil (Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals), Ryan Waste (Guitars, Backing Vocals), Dave Witte (Drums), Nick Poulos (Guitars)
When I pushed play on the first song of Virginian crossover thrashers Municipal Waste’s new album, Slime and Punishment, I could have sworn that I heard the whirring sound of a cassette player. The album starts right off with “Breathe Grease,” which I can tell you for sure is a prime example of what you’re going to get for the rest of the album.
The songs on this twenty-nine minutes of the album are very short, showing Municipal Waste leaning heavily into the punk influences of thrash metal. Their songwriting fits excellently into the idea of crossover thrash. “Breathe Grease” is one minute forty-nine seconds long. Its followup is only forty-nine seconds, and the longest song on the album is two minutes fifty-two seconds. However, punk is not the only influence here, and it’s not really the primary influence either. The primary influence is pure thrash metal, and I’m talking speedy old-school thrash.
What we hear here in Municipal Waste’s sound will be no surprise for Municipal Waste’s fans or even the most casual listener familiar with Municipal Waste. They haven’t changed their sound on this record. I mean, that’s kind of what Municipal Waste have become known for: consistency. They have a sound, and they stick to it. If you like that, you’ll be very content with Slime and Punishment. If you don’t, you might as well turn this off after the first track. Because if you don’t dig it then, you won’t for the other thirteen tunes.
Also, though, if you were hoping for a little growth, a little maturing, you probably won’t get as much as you want. I was thinking maybe we’d get something like we saw with Lich King and this year’s The Omniclasm, which seemed to be Lich King taking their old-school thrash style and tributes and their jokey, pizza thrash and maturing all of it. Yeah, Lich King still had a sound that was very, very reminiscent of Anthrax, Slayer, etc. But they were able to take it another step further. They were able to mature their instrumentation and lyrics. And although they still had a lot of humor – the extreme majority of which did connect with me – they were also able to talk about more mature subjects, with which they did a great job. And they were also able to put a fresh face on their music – not only a fresh face on Lich King themselves but also a fresh face on that kind old thrash sound and tributes that we got from previous Lich King material.
Municipal Waste doesn’t really get a fresh face here. They just play how they’ve played in the past, and they do it well, quite competently. However, the production and mixing is maybe the best the band has ever had, the mixing and mastering done by Bill Metoyer, who certainly knows his stuff, having worked on Slayer’s Hell Awaits, Flotsam and Jetsam’s Doomsday for the Deceiver (a criminally underrated thrash classic), and this year’s Body Count’s Bloodlust. Also, this is the heaviest they’ve ever sounded, perhaps because they are a quintet now. They do have a bit of a seasoning that was lacking before.
If you aren’t familiar with Municipal Waste, their sound is very much a tribute and mix of both East and West Coast thrash styles. You hear a lot of Anthrax, early Metallica, early Megadeth, early Slayer, Overkill, Testament, Exodus, etc. All that is smashed up in a blender and served up in small but lethal doses. What you’ll get is exactly what I described, and the weakness, as you can see me building up toward, are the fact that it’s really nothing more. Municipal Waste has always taken their songs and kind of injected a wry humor into them. They do that here, although it doesn’t always work super well for me. It’s amusing, but not something I necessarily always want to revisit. And the songs start to run together too much by the time you reach the end of the album, to where, after listening to it, I can’t really distinguish some of the fourteen songs from most of the others.
There is some memorable stuff, though. “Breathe Grease” is a fast and fun intro to the album’s sound, kicking off fast then transitioning into a purely East Coast breakdown. Phil’s bass begins to really shine on “Dingy Situations,” which also contains some good guitar soloing. “Shrednecks” is absolutely hilarious, and we get another awesome breakdown in it where all the instruments show off. “Poison the Preacher” seems like a big Slayer tribute, both musically and lyrically, with Foresta channeling Arya vocals a bit and Witte effectively mimicking Lombardo but with his own flair. The guitars and bass stand solidly behind and among it. “Parole Violators” is another hilarious entry, and this one is a throwback to teen rebellion songs, with the attitude dialed up to the max. There’s also a funny skit in the middle. The most fun song is “Slime and Punishment,” and with its play on words and mid-tempo thrashy goodness, I’ll revisit this one for sure. Heckuva lotta fun. Also contains a great guitar solo. “Low Tolerance” sees Phil getting to show off his bass skills more, and so does the cool instrumental, “Under the Waste Command,” which has my favorite guitar work on the album. “Death Proof” is awesomely fun, too, and very darkly humorous. Also, was this inspired by Quentin Tarantino? Album closer “Think Fast” allows the band to show off everything they have in one last track and, boy, do they ever! It also sounds very much like Motörhead and early Metallica.
All in all, Municipal Waste’s Slime and Punishment is exactly what’s advertised. If you know Municipal Waste, you know what you’re going to get. And if you don’t, I feel that my description of them here is pretty apt. If you feel interested, try it out. You’ll probably like it. You might not want to revisit it over and over again, but it will be fun. At least check it out on Spotify. However, if you’re’ not interested now, after all of this review, honestly, don’t even bother.
I’m going to give Municipal Waste’s Slime and Punishment a 73%.
It’s kind of like what I talked about in my review of Overkill’s The Grinding Wheel. I always love to see a new thrash album get released. I have a soft spot for good thrash. Thrash right now is experiencing a kind of revival, one that began in 2015 and 2016, interestingly enough coinciding with the new releases of the Big 4. In the past, pre-2015, something like Slime and Punishment would have been really nice to see, would have been very welcome, would have made a huge splash. When Municipal Waste released The Art of Partying in 2007, that was really nice to see. But now we are getting better thrash albums. In light of that, stuff like The Grinding Wheel and Slime and Punishment, though a lot of fun and worth listening to, just aren’t the standouts they might have been before.