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Album Review: Municipal Waste Trash Fakers in an Age of Faking Trashers on Slime and Punishment

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It’s been five years since The Fatal Feast. Five years. That’s like, half a decade, man. Half a decade of Waste Withdrawal. Where were you at in 2012? Where was metal? Where was punk? Hell, where was the world?

It’s not like metal’s superhero speed-punks haven’t been busy — Ryan Waste’s got a talk show and like six bands, Land Phil and Tony Foresta have released a bunch of records with Iron Reagan, and Dave Witte is just like, still the sickest drummer. But the union of these gentlemen can’t be replicated: like Otto and Bud, the A-Team, Zappa’s Mother’s in the mid-’70s, Monk and Miles at Newport, Eric and Hannibal. A world without the Waste is like a world without Jack Burton – everything’s the same, but just, different. Bleaker. Not as fun. Sad!, even.

Maybe that’s due to how dependable the Waste are, in a metal scene that’s often dependably shitty. An entry in their catalogue is like a Tarantino movie – the most underrated of which (though Axl disagrees with me), Death Proof, is paid tribute to on Slime and Punishment. You know what you’re getting into. You know you’re gonna have a Good Time. You know, no matter how it compares to what’s come before, it’s gonna be pretty goddamn great.

The slightly rougher production (Slime was self-recorded by Land Phil at his Blaze of Torment studios) takes a couple of spins to get into, but it belies some of the Waste’s best tunes yet. There are few pleasures as pure as the riff break in “Amateur Sketch,” the single-note breakdown of “Parole Violators,” or the groovy solo section of the title track. In a speed-scene dominated by overly serious, aesthetically stylized bands like Havok, Nails, or Power Trip, the Waste prize The Riff above all. What more could you ask for?

The Fatal Feast, The Waste’s “space record,” was also far and away their best. But like Mastodon coming off Crack the Skye, or John Carpenter off The Thing, where do you go after you’ve made your penultimate slab of sci-fi? You could go inwards, towards a new horizon of human evolution à la the climax of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You could drive a semi head-first into Big Trouble in Little China. You could fly your Chevy Malibu into anarchic revisionist-history. You could make a sequel that doesn’t suck (Magic Mike XXLGremlins 2Jackass Number Two, etc).

Waste didn’t go any of those routes. Instead, Slime and Punishment is the most mature album ever made about vomiting in an alley, getting into trouble with the law, crushing posers, and playing metal so super fast that your neck falls off. If Fatal Feast is Waste’s Event Horizon and Art of Partying is their Animal House, then Slime and Punishment is their courtroom drama – Reversal of Fortune, but starring Kurt Russell. You could probably write a deep-dive review about how Slime is really about powerlessness in an increasingly paranoid, oppressive world. But I’m sure that’s the last thing the Waste want to hear, and grounds for getting your ass kicked.

If anything, Slime and Punishment is a concept album about having fun in a society that only revels in branded, corporate-friendly frivolity. Municipal Waste are the ultimate expression of not giving a fuck about anything other than not giving a fuck. They’re not the band we deserve; they’re the band we need.

Municipal Waste‘s Slime and Punishment drops June 23rd via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order it here.

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