[live review] Municipal Waste obliterate Great Scott

For, no joke, 345 photos of just Muni Waste's set alone, check out Return to the Pit's photo page.

"We fuckin' love playing Boston!" exclaimed Waste frontman Tony Foresta to a sea of sweating humanity last night at Great Scott-- and although he sounded sincere, it's been a long time since the band hasn't skipped us for the roomier confines of the Worcester Palladium. Then again, that's pretty much true of every metal band, right? So in that case, let's be thankful for what we have, especially when "what we have" is perhaps the most fun thrash band on the planet right now doing their thing in a cramped and jam-packed bar on Comm Ave. Foresta and company lurched into the next song, with Ryan Waste's signature breakneck-yet-crystal clear guitar barrage leading into an apocalyptic rumbling of knotted drum-and-guitar-volleys, until Foresta screamed something I haven't heard in a Boston club in quite a long time: "CIRCLE PIT!" The audience of crusty dudes obliged, and the crowd exploded into action yet again.

Municipal Waste has a reputation for playing a goofy variant on an already goofy genre, 80's thrash-- and if you closed your eyes last night during the band's set, you wouldn't be off the mark to think you were listening to, say, late 80's Anthrax fronted by Mike Muir. The band's most recent album, last year's excellent Massive Aggressive, saw them toning down the jokiness and upping the technicality of their attack. And make no mistake, the new songs are effective in a live setting, particularly early highlight "Wolves of Chernobyl", a roof-ripper with head-down riffage and an explosive chorus. But the band was just at ease with their old material, cracking the yucks with tunes like "Thrashin' of the Christ" that start fast and then proceed to keep cranking up the speed and aggression until they end in a blur of screams, shouts, and pummeling drum fills. If that sounds exhausting, it is, but if that sounds awesome, it's that as well.

The thing about classic thrash, though, is that it isn't just about speed, but rather the friction point when the breakdown kills the velocity and channels it into a waltz of headbanging mania. And aside from a few other practitioners around these days, almost no one does this move as effectively and drop-on-a-dime beautifully as Municipal Waste. Drastic tempo switches in the hands of a lesser band confound the moshing masses, but in the muting palms of masters like MW, the switch to full-on stomp-in-a-circle breakdown is effortless and natural, particularly tonight in the marching holocausts of "Mind Eraser" and "Wrong Answer". These might, on the surface, be beyond-goofy odes to, respectively, alcohol and TV game shows, but put into action in a live setting, they are riveting rock where shout-along choruses and precision aggression yield a maximum rock crunch that is powerful to the point of overwhelming. As we all spilled out onto Comm Ave after the set like a popped zit on a mirror, it was clear that we just been witness to a glorious and all-to-rare-in-Boston display of maximum metal mayhem.
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