Municipal Waste : Electrified Brain

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Municipal Waste Electrified Brain review

Municipal Waste make an appropriately electrifying return with their seventh studio album Electrified Brain, and the good news is that they haven’t changed a bit. There’s perhaps a smidgen more melody on Electrified Brain than we’re used to—the Iron Maiden-style harmonized guitars, which round off the second track “Demoralizer,” or the frantically ascending riffs that power their way through “High Speed Steel” wouldn’t at least be a slight anomaly on, say, their manic hardcore explosion The Art of Partying. But, fundamentally, Municipal Waste have released another variation on the same approach for the seventh time in a row, and how much of a problem that is for you really depends on your perspective on musical growth in the first place.

For the most part, Electrified Brain is too thunderously energetic to give so much as a moment to ponder the question. This album is a red-hot whirlwind of sound and speed, a blizzard of piercing riffs and D-beats that speak of ragdoll moshpits and sweaty, testosterone abandon. Tony Foresta’s vocals are no less sharp after 20 years, offering that perfectly harsh, metallic bark delivered with a snarling, punky attitude that has cemented Municipal Waste as emblematic titans of crossover thrash.

There’s a good deal of variation of tempo here, too—the sort of blistering speeds that the band exhibit on this record are only effective so long as the audience isn’t numbed to them. It is the mark of seasoned thrashers that they can exercise restraint as well as recklessness (although restraint might be a bit of a misnomer; the tempo is varied, certainly, but in the sense that at its mellowest we’re treated to a pace that’ll make your teeth rattle, rising to an upper limit of the sort of blazing rapidity that threatens to warp the fabric of spacetime). The band are also able to wrap all the standard metal tropes into their songs without making them seem trite; the act of repeatedly yelling song titles throughout a track like a mantra, like in “Blood Vessel / Boat Jail” or “Crank The Heat,” can often get pretty boring pretty quickly. Thankfully, Municipal Waste exercise more than enough humor and enthusiasm to pull it off.

If Electrified Brain has any serious issue, it might be described as an abundance of enthusiasm—this album feels like it’s been crammed full of each and every riff and solo that was dreamed up during the writing process, with seemingly little thought put toward trimming any potential dead weight. Usually, the riffs slot together well, and even when they don’t, absolutely nothing on this album sticks around long enough for you to really notice. But that’s kind of the problem. The band were clearly going for that disorienting, whiplash feeling, and most often they deliver it. But the key to creating an adrenaline-fuelled thrashterpiece is not simply to throw shit at the wall and see what sticks, and that’s something that Municipal Waste still seem like they haven’t quite figured out yet.

All the same, it’s hard to imagine that Electrified Brain will upset longtime listeners, and there’s no doubt that it is exclusively this demographic for whom Municipal Waste write their music. Why on earth shouldn’t they? These metalheads have carved out their niche, and, for better or worse—for richer or for poorer—you know they’re gonna be sticking with it.

Label: Nuclear Blast

Year: 2022

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