During the 2000s thrash revival, Municipal Waste made a name for themselves as being the fun, party band as opposed to straight-laced, super serious style adopted by the countless other retro thrash bands that sprang up around the time. It’s not surprising that this approach endured for much longer than the other bands of the time. Municipal Waste’s identity couldn’t be boiled down to “One of the Big Four but not as good” like a lot of their contemporaries. This was down to that sense of fun, and a little infusion of hardcore that put them closer to Suicidal Tendencies than any of the Big Four. Can The Last Rager stand up to the legacy Municipal Waste have crafted for themselves?
A trap many thrash bands fall into is speed for the sake of speed. Slayer’s Angel of Death is the perfect example of high-speed riffing, it’s impactful and memorable from the second it starts. Municipal Waste have seemingly forgotten the lessons Angel of Death taught us. Every time the pace picks up, like on Car Nivore, the riffs become generic and bland. You’ve heard them before. They don’t feel chaotic and high octane- like everything is about to fall apart at any minute- like some of the best thrash songs do, nor do they feel fun or exciting as is Municipal Waste’s normal trademark. They’re solid but ultimately uninteresting. This is exacerbated by the lack of hooks or memorable moments on any of the songs, leaving three of four songs on this EP blurred together as a mushy, indistinct smear of bland thrash. The other track- opener Wave Of Death- is a mostly mid-paced chugathon with gang vocals sprinkled throughout, it’s clearly written for the live environment but holds no interest as a recorded song.
The best moments on this record are when Municipal Waste go into two-step hardcore, like on the title track. It’s satisfyingly chunky and brings a sense of energy that’s sorely missing from the rest of the EP. But, like most of the rest of the EP, it’s not anything you’ve not heard before, nor is it pulled off to a high enough standard to elevate the songs above mediocre. The vocals are mostly monotone shouts with no distinct hooks or slogans to shout back; there are no glaring issues with the instrumentals but no real stand out moments of excellence either. This is, on the whole, quite frustrating from a band who have some excellent songs in their back catalogue, and frankly very difficult to write about.
The Last Rager is not an essential record by any means and should be skipped by anyone but the most devoted Municipal Waste fans. The band have done what many of their lesser contemporaries did: not bring any of their own character to the tried and tested thrash metal template. It’s a shame but put simply, why listen to this when you could just as easily listen to Reign In Blood, Master of Puppets, or any other thrash classic?
Highlights: The Last Rager
The Last Rager is out 11th October 2019 via Nuclear Blast and can be purchased here.