“SLIME AND PUNISHMENT – AND THAT’S ALL YOU’RE GOING TO GET”
What an incredible night of sweat, stage diving, moshing and pure drunken greasiness. The only Irish date on Municipal Waste’s tour was almost immediately demanding of another, with every band on the bill nailing their set and each getting their own unique reaction from the audience. Municipal Waste had a constant (and very commanding) involvement with the energetic Belfast crowd and to their immense credit, not a single hiccup in terms of playing while the odd fan lingered onstage a tad too long before launching forward into the insane mixture of moshing and headbanging that continued throughout the night.
The first band on the bill were death metal titans Skeletal Remains who wasted no time in taking the stage with a rousing barrage of double kicks and tremolo-picked riffs that sounded like a swarm of pissed-off mechanical bees followed by a herd of rhinoceros. They had the eager audience easily whipped up into an instant frenzy and between vocalist Chris Monroy’s impressive gutturals (and lung capacity) and the band’s overall solidity of playing with some seriously technically impressive music, the first band of the night had no trouble setting the tone from the word go.
Second, to take the stage on the night were Enforcer. Hailing from Sweden this time, these lads played with a slightly more melodic style, akin to a combination of classic speed metal mixed with more modern influences of heavier genres to ensure that while this band certainly stood out on the lineup, they were by no means out of place. Their reputation clearly preceded them when they played the title track from their fourth studio album, 2015’s “From Beyond” as the crowd could be heard actually singing the guitar solo, a phenomenon rarely seen on stages of any size smaller than an outdoor festival or an arena.
Final support of the night, Toxic Holocaust managed to push the already electrified crowd just that little bit further and summoned the first proper mosh pit of the night, one that didn’t seem to ever completely stop during their set. The thrash metal three-piece managed to maintain a relentless pace while delivering an incredible level of beefy heft for being the only band on the bill playing with one guitarist, a difficult feat to achieve with a sound as heavy and music as complex as theirs. Their set included face-melters such as “I Am Disease” from their 2011 album “Conjure and Command” and “Awaken The Serpent” from their 2013 offering “Chemistry of Consciousness” before bringing their time onstage to a climactic close with a definitive performance of “Bitch”.
By this point in the night, one could almost be forgiven for wondering how the headliner could possibly do anything to further escalate the level of energy resonating in the room, but anyone who knows this band should also know to expect the spirit of partying so prevalent in their songwriting and stage performances throughout the years. Municipal Waste was treated by their fans to what was almost definitely a record for most stage dives in that particular venue, with an endless conveyor belt of bodies carried onstage and off again from their second track onwards. Ironically being brought pints of Guinness before their performance of “You’re Cut Off” did absolutely nothing to impact the quality of playing on stage (not surprising for a band that have 19 years of experience) before steamrolling into “Beer Pressure”.
Next up, the band treated the fans to a new track “Wave Of Death” from “The Last Rager” EP released in October earlier this year, taking a break first to make sure that everyone in the crowd was sure to keep each other’s safety in mind when throwing themselves on top of each other from the stage or in the pit. Following this and another dozen stage divers, vocalist Tony Foresta crashed into a violent rendition of 2017’s “Slime And Punishment”, his voice somehow still as aggressive as it has always been after nearly two decades of touring, partying and peddling his own brand of hot sauce, none of which are renowned for being kind on the throat. Blasting through “Sadistic Magician” and a quick dip of the toes into their older roots with 2003’s “Substitute Creature”, drummer Dave Witte was tighter than a pre-recorded drum track despite the ridiculous changes of pace throughout songs like “Bangover”. During this performance it seems bassist Philip Hall managed to spot a stray phone that had been dropped on stage by one of the (still ongoing) streams of stage divers, thankfully returned to its owner by vocalist Tony working overtime as the lost and found cupboard. The band brought their time onstage to a close with a blistering rendition of “Born To Party”, or rather, they would have if the audience had let them. Summoned immediately back onstage, the band appeased the hungry crowd with an encore instrumental performance leading into a final crescendo in the titular track from 2007’s “The Art Of Partying”, something Belfast had clearly proven they too are experts in.
Despite constant, albeit welcome distractions from an enthusiastic crowd (at least half of whom were on stage at some point), Municipal Waste made sure that while they may have had trouble remembering how many past shows they have played here due to getting utterly wasted afterwards, this one would not be a night that they would easily forget. Well, with how eager they seemed to head out for a “few” pints afterwards, we’ll have to wait until next time to see if they do!
Review: Michael Scott
Photography: Wayne Donaldson