Thursday, November 8, 2012

Municipal Waste - The Fatal Feast (Waste in Space)

Big and stupid and fucking rad

Maybe I'm just a simpleton, a dum-dum thrasher, a brain dead nu thrash kid with his flatbilled hat and pumped up kicks and skateboard, but I love pretty much every Municipal Waste record to date.  I mean, they're never going to top that perfect blend of energy and riff writing showcased on Hazardous Mutation, but I still believe they haven't completely given up on writing fun, exciting songs.  Even though Massive Aggressive is pretty much my least listened-to album from these Virginian old new schoolers by a long shot, it's still chock full of fun, aggressive songs like "Wrong Answer", "Upside Down Church", and the mighty "Wolves of Chernobyl".  And if I'm being 100% honest with you, their 2012 offering, The Fatal Feast is no exception to the rules they've laid out for themselves and all new school thrash bands with Hazardous Mutation a whopping seven years ago (good Christ has it been that long already?).

The Fatal Feast is a strange anomaly in a way, as musically it seems to take more cues from hardcore punk than its predecessor, but on the whole the songs are a lot longer than they ever were in the past.  I mean, listen to the chorus riff in "Standards and Practices", you can pretty clearly tell what I'm talking about.  The riffs aren't as... I guess "typical" would be the right word.  At this point in time, you can pretty much just hear a five second snippet of any song and you'd be able to accurately deduce that it's a Municipal Waste song, they have a distinct sound at this point.  An Overkill style loud, pangy bass, riffs ripped straight from Game Over and Speak English or Die, Tony Foresta's pint sized shout, you've heard one album and you pretty much get the idea.  Part of this has to do with the fact that this is the fourth straight album with the same lineup.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, don't get me wrong, a stable lineup is a marvelous thing to have and writing new music with people you've grown to be rather comfortable with is a huge plus. But let's be honest here, they haven't thought up a new idea in nearly a decade.  Waste 'em All is the only album that sounds even remotely different, being much more into violent, dissonant, sloppy hardcore than the rest of the albums, which took a much cleaner, melodic approach to their punk influences.  I attribute this mostly to the fact that not only was the band younger and more eager to just rip everything apart, but there were different brains behind the writing process.  But what this long diversion is supposed to illustrate is that the signature Foresta/Waste/Phil/Witte sound has been ever so slightly tweaked to the center.

It's a small change, and maybe it's only noticeable to me because I've been a fan for a long time (kind of like how only casual fans or non-fans of Motorhead make the utterly incorrect accusation that all of their songs sound the same), but The Fatal Feast is a lot less insane than their earlier, finer hours.  It's not as all over the place and pushing the highest tempo the band could possible muster, there are a lot more mid paced sections and hard chugging/moshing sections.  Don't get me wrong, there are balls out speedfests here of course, fans of obnoxiously high octane crossover would do well to listen to "12 Step Program", "Unholy Abductor", or "You're a Cunt Whore" (or "Eviction Party" if you have the bonus track).  But also listen to the first half of "New Dead Masters" or the title track, their dedication to high speed insanity has been dialed back a few notches overall.  The real question is whether or not this is a bad thing.  Well... yeah in a way it kind of is.  I always felt Municipal Waste was at their best when they were being both catchy and dangerously fast, hence why Hazardous Mutation will likely always be their best album.  On this newest album, they're a lot more focused and deliberate, which creates a much less frantic pace and presents us with three or four versions of "Sadistic Magician".  This brings the album down a smidgeon in the overall scheme of things.

But it's only a smidgeon, as Municipal Waste's main quality is still here in spades.  Say what you will about their skill or attitude or originality or quality or whatever reason you want to knock them, but you can't deny that Municipal Waste is a boatload of goddamn fun.  I love listening to this album, I love listening to any of the previous albums, and I love seeing the band live.  This is the intangible that keeps them as the reigning champions of post-2000 thrash.  They're crossover masters and they embody this trans-genre swagger in the most entertaining way possible.  The Fatal Feast may not be as shitnards bonkers as Hazardous Mutation or The Art of Partying, but it's easily equally fun.  "New Dead Masters" and "Covered in Sick" should be counted as classics within the Waste's catalog as far as I'm concerned, right next to "Unleash the Bastards" and "Born to Party".  Previous fans are bound to like this just as much as anything before it, and previous non-fans will find absolutely nothing to change their minds.

And that's what makes this what it is, it carries an abundance of energy and a dearth of fucks to give.  Municipal Waste knows what they do best at this point, and they know that experimenting with this sound too much will certainly alienate them from the rabid fanbase they've built up.  You want to know something?  I agree with their mentality entirely.  The Motorhead comparison above is just as apt in this regard.  They know what they do, they know what fans want to hear, and so they deliver with all the passion and fire that they have to give, just like they did at the beginning of their career.  Overall The Fatal Feast doesn't have as many memorable standout tracks (the two I singled out earlier are certainly the highlights regardless) as the second and third albums, and it isn't as crazy or unrestrained as them either, but it still somehow manages to be the best thing they've done in years.  Municipal Waste is the whole package when it comes to this style, they predated the groundswell of 2006-2007 thrash bands and they prove that they're still legit with their fifth album.  Despite the heaps of praise, I do realize that this is an album for established fans only, this isn't going to convert anybody.  But fuck it, I am an established fan and this is a fucking awesome album.  If you aren't an established fan too, then I'm afraid we can't be friends.

RATING - 81%

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