10 Years Ago: Municipal Waste Unleash ‘The Art of Partying’
By 2007, a bunch of bands emerged who were disenchanted with metalcore and even the new wave of American metal, and longed to hear songs that sounded like their favorite ‘80s thrash and crossover bands. The most publicized -- Evile, Warbringer, Havok, Toxic Holocaust and Bonded by Blood -- were heralded by the press as pioneers of a new retro sound, but, as it turned out, the band with the greatest staying power was Municipal Waste, who released their third album, the groundbreaking The Art of Partying, on June 12, 2007.
Ironically, on the surface, Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal appeared to be the least serious of the thrash revivalists. Most of their songs varied between three speeds -- fast, faster and lightning fast, and they mostly wrote songs about drinking, being hammered, getting wasted, acting like drunken idiots and banging their heads like Exodus circa 1986. Aesthetically, Municipal Waste were – and still are – like a cross between a juvenile, graphically violent and hysterical Troma film and ‘80s crossover bands, including D.R.I., Agnostic Front and, perhaps most importantly, S.O.D.
The latter is what really separated Municipal Waste from the other thrash revivalists, most of which they didn’t consider peers. Vocalist Tony Foresta didn’t sing or howl in pain; he screamed, barked and shouted with aggressive delight, and while guitarist Ryan Waste spent most of the bands two-and-a-half minute (or less) songs rapidly picking muted strings and playing chugging, incisive riffs, he also had the chops to insert squealing harmonics, diving string scrapes and tuneful solos, many of which were rooted in the Iron Maiden dual harmony lead model. Of course, Municipal Waste never soloed when a good chugging riff, ripping rhythm or chant-along vocal did the trick.
“Sometimes reviewers call us a bunch of drunks who play sloppy and write shitty songs,” Foresta said. “We’re totally about having fun and being totally ridiculous and when we’re not making music, we don’t take anything serious. But we’re dead serious about the music we make. We work hard on these songs and when we record them we make sure everything sounds right.”
While the band had the right idea from the time they formed in 2001, on their first two albums, 2003’s Waste ‘Em All and 2005’s Hazardous Mutation (produced by current second guitarist Nick Poulos and the late GWAR guitarist Cory Smoot), they lacked the resources to convincingly convey their artistic vision. For The Art of Partying, however, Municipal Waste hooked up with producer Zeuss (Hatebreed, Shadows Fall), who was able to capture both the band’s frantic live energy and their instrumental skill with a sonic clarity missing from their first two releases.
Referencing their love for Troma films, Municipal Waste hired the low-budget schlock horror house to shoot a video for “Headbanger Face Rip,” which includes footage from The Toxic Avenger series.
While Municipal Waste followed up The Art of Partying in 2009 with the equally brutal Zeuss-produced Massive Aggression, the album was less booze-n-blunts-oriented. Despite featuring some crushing riffs crammed into a 13-song, 28-minute construct, it wasn’t quite as entertaining as its predecessor, a flaw the Waste more than remedied in 2012 on The Fatal Feast (Waste in Space).
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My Riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.
See 'The Art of Partying' in the Best Thrash Album of Each Year Since 1983