Sound — 8
Keeping with the late '80s styled production values of their influences, Municipal Waste elect to go for a very mid-level guitar tone on their newest album. The sound instantly reminds you of D.R.I. and the albums they made for Metal Blade. Since guitarist Ryan Waste rarely takes a proper solo, the straight forward tones work extremely well within the context of the songs. Drummer extraordinaire Dave Witte (Burnt By The Sun, Black Army Jacket, Discordance Axis) is mostly known for his inhumanly paced blast beats but here he tastefully shows off his slower paced crossover chops. Don't get me wrong, these songs never let up on speed and energy but producer Zeuss (Shadows Fall, Madball) perfectly captures the essence of the genre's golden years. The one criticism would be the vocals are too up-front in the overall mix. That said, with Tony Foresta's shout/bark styled vocals moving along at a locomotive pace, it's easy to overlook the issue.
Lyrics — 9
Foresta's lyrics bring to mind the sardonic work of S.O.D.'s Billy Milano. The words on songs like Beer Pressure and Headbanger Face Rip pack bite but aren't heavy handed in the least. With the current state of the world, Foresta's comedic flavored commentary is a welcome change of pace. Keeping with their love of the 1980's, the driving Lunch Hall Food Brawl reminds one of classic Troma Films like The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke Em' High. It's no surprise that Troma mastermind, Lloyd Kaufman directed the video to their aforementioned single Headbanger Face Rip.
Overall Impression — 9
All the way from the Ed Repka (Megadeth, Evil Dead) influenced artwork, who coincidently created their last album's cover, to the Jackson/Charvel guitar sounds, Municipal Waste have shown honored the style of metal that has brought them together. Their allegiance to bands like Vio-Lence, Exodus and Cryptic Slaughter is obvious and unwavering. Even the lost art of the gang vocal is found on the Art of Partying. There was a time when you couldn't find a worthwhile thrash record that didn't have gang vocals but in these days of metalcore they are a rarity. It's not hard to imagine a crowd of young thrashers shouting along to the chorus in Sadistic Magician. This is the kind of spirit the Virginia based unit are helping bring back to the forefront. Sure, these songs would never be confused for pop but there is something inherently infectious about them that instantly connected with me. It's not that Municipal Waste are the first band to marry the world of crunch and melody. The point is that Foresta and crew have mastered it within this realm. In terms of change, it would be interesting to see the band work with some slower paced rhythms. I'm not suggesting anything as left field as a ballad or even a doom track but something with a slower tempo might be a winning experiment for them. Whether the band branch out on their future releases remains to be seen but if they keep on churning winners like the Art of Partying we'll all be the better for it.