he cover of Hazardous Mutation evokes Tromaville circa 1985: a militarized wasteland of urban decay whose toxic environment leaves its streets swarming with grotesque mutants and city workers in biohazard suits. It’s the perfect image for Municipal Waste; the band could well be recent graduates of Nuke ’Em High, and the bones they have to pick may be as literal as they are figurative. On top of that, their thrash-meets-hardcore sound has nothing to do with the sophisticated contemporary metal scene of Moby Dick allegories and complicated jazz chords, and everything to do with the dirty, rotten, and imbecilic outbursts of mid-eighties titans like S.O.D.
“Intro/Death Ripper” sets the tone for what follows: a solid riff, some rudimentary octave-hopping, barked vocals, and an infallible exit strategy of just letting the thing stop around the two-minute mark. With fifteen tracks in twenty-six minutes, Hazardous Mutation sidesteps the danger of overstaying its welcome, which is nice because the band is not exactly “Guilty of Being Tight,” as one amusing song title has it. While musically competent, these guys display no particular distinction, and the thrash guitar leads are pretty basic. Even Dave Witte, drummer for the legendary Human Remains and Discordance Axis, often phones in standard-issue hardcore beats, though he does end the album with a double bass pedal run that could give Tool’s Danny Carey an endurance test. Surprisingly, none of this really works against the group. In the right context sloppiness can be an aesthetic, and Municipal Waste are clearly not striving to compete with the Dillinger Escape Plan.
The Minor Threat reference of “Guilty of Being Tight” is a bit off, since Municipal Waste has more in common with the drunken antisocial outbursts of Suicidal Tendencies or the Adolescents than Sir Ian’s sociopolitical treatises; if one lyric sums up the band’s philosophy, it’s probably “if I can’t fuck shit up I don’t want to live,” from “Blood Drive.” “Abusement Park” and “Terror Shark” both sound like 90-second Troma film pitches set to music (which is probably longer than the pitch for Redneck Zombies ran), and “Set to Destruct” features a hilariously bad wail near its end that can only be a tribute to or a parody of King Diamond. “The Thrashin’ of the Christ” speaks for itself.
Either you find this stuff amusing or you don’t. Myself, I smile at that last one. There’s a time for nine-minute epic songs on labor history, and there’s a time for thirty-second blasts about black ice. Thrash-hardcore fusion was not exactly a genre whose embalmed, buried, and long-forgotten body was begging for revival, but neither was eighties-style power metal, and that doesn’t stop Three Inches of Blood from being a lot of fun. Municipal Waste lack the musical and songwriting skills of that band, but their enthusiasm is just as infectious.
Reviewed by: Whitney Strub
Reviewed on: 2005-12-23