It’s a commonly held belief that when Thrash Metal slipped into a coma sometime during the early Nineties, it was all due to an over-saturation of bands and a paucity of creativity. And while it’s certainly true that around 1989-90, the well was indeed beginning to running dry, a number of bands did try their best to mix things up in an attempt to prolong the Thrash adventure. Coroner tried Jazz and Prog, Mordred took the Funk route, Voivod turned into Pink Floyd, and let’s not forget Celtic Frost and their, er… misguided attempt to reinvent themselves as a Glam act.
However, another key factor was that many fans who simply wanted more of the same just weren’t ready to embrace this new-found diversity (okay, nobody was ready for Celtic Frost’s hairspray and spandex). And so, coupled with the fact that many bands were already treading water, they eventually turned their back on the genre and left it alone in its room to die.
So when Thrash suddenly screamed itself back into consciousness in the early ’00s, it was clear there was some catching up to be done. In its absence, bands like Machine Head and Pantera had taken the original template and modernized it, but now some serious, ‘Proper’ Thrash was needed again, and one of the bands at the forefront of its reinvention (annoyingly re-dubbed “Nu-Thrash” by some) were Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste.
Formed in 2000, the band released an EP, a number of split releases, and full debut Waste ‘Em All (Six Weeks) before exploding onto the scene fully with 2005’s Hazardous Mutation (Earache). A combination of short, sharp blasts of D.R.I. inspired pounding Crossover Thrash, and classic album artwork by long time genre favourite Edward J. Repka helped launch the band to an international audience.
Four albums, a change of record label, and twelve years later, whether you like it or not, Municipal Waste are still doing the exact same thing, and on their latest release, Slime and Punishment (Nuclear Blast) they’re still doing it well. Frontman Tony Foresta continues to strain his voice like John Connelly of Nuclear Assault over stupidly fast riffs, a blasting rhythm section, gang vocal backing, and slower mosh sections, all designed with the sole purpose of destroying the faces of their live audiences.
Furious stabs of energy such as ‘Enjoy the Night’, ‘Shrednecks’, ‘Death Proof’, ‘Breathe Grease’ and the groove-laden title track all do their job to great effect, and there’s even time for an impressive (and predictably short) instrumental, ‘Under the Waste Command’.
So, after being on the scene for seventeen years, with six full albums under their belts, Municipal Waste – and this new brand of Thrash in general – have now lasted around three times longer than the first wave. And although this new breed of bands are nowhere near as influential, groundbreaking, experimental, or as fearless as their progenitors, what they have succeeded in doing is giving thousands of Thrash fans what they want for a much longer period of time, and with no signs of slowing down.