Interview: Brujeria’s Juan Brujo discusses “Pocho Aztlan,” the band’s first album in years


Brujeria, the extreme grind and thrash collective that has featured members from bands like Faith No More, Fear Factory and Napalm Death, hasn’t put out much new music in the past 15 years. But the band hasn’t been idle.

The band reformed in 2007 — but with other commitments, getting everyone in the same room, or studio, takes work. Whenever the band members have time in their schedules, they have been recording songs for their upcoming attack “Pocho Aztlan.”

Earlier this year, the band also belted out the Record Store Day single “Viva Presidente Trump!” a violent yet hilarious take on the the candidate who made vilifying people from Mexico and Central America such a large part of his campaign. The single sold out so fast that not even the band members got a copy.

Juan Brujo, the band’s lead vocalist, said much of “Pocho Aztlan” — which translates as “wasted promised land” — was in the can before Trump’s controversial political rhetoric swept over America.

“The album was done before the Trump stuff. It was just waiting to come out,” Brujo said during a quick phone interview to promote the new album. “That’s why we did the single — we want (Trump) to win so we can go to war with him as president.”

Although Trump’s influence won’t be felt on “Pocho Aztlan,” a Trump victory in November will stir the fire in the band, Brujo said.

“Then, you’ll see a record come really quick, and be very politically minded,” Brujo said.

“Pocho Aztlan” could have different meanings for different people. But for Brujo — who was born in the United States but is of Mexican heritage — “Pocho Aztlan” is personal, and is more about being a stranger in a strange land, no matter which side of the border he is on.

“I’m a Mexican born in the U.S., and all my life I’ve heard, ‘go back to Mexico, you don’t belong here,'” Brujo said. Meanwhile, “pocho” is a slur used by Mexican citizens to describe U.S.-born Mexican-Americans.

“When I go to Mexico, the Mexicans call me trash. They don’t want me there either,” Brujo said. “I’ve never felt at home anywhere.”

Although the band has been known to take a lighter turn, with songs like “Don Quijote Marihuana” and “Marijuana” (an insane yet strangely faithful twisting of “Macarena” into an ode to weed), there won’t be any humorous moments on “Pocho Aztlan,” Brujo said. Songs like that are only made “when there are a couple of cases of beer laying around,” he said.

With everyone busy with other bands, the songwriting process was most done in the studio. “It’s really hard to get everyone together, so we’d write and record songs the same day,” Brujo said.

With a blistering attack like “Viva Presidente Trump!” it should be clear Brujo and Brujeria aren’t afraid to take on controversial subjects or offend.

“We tell the stories of what it’s like on the border where we live, and try to get people’s attention. because it’s real and it’s out there,” he said.

Brujeria will be criss-crossing the U.S. beginning on Sept. 18 and through October, before heading for a string of dates in Europe. As for the band’s future after that, well, that depends what happens this fall, Brujo said.

“We want to do some shows and have fun,” Brujo said. Regarding a new album after “Pocho Aztlan,” recording “will just be the same thing, unless we get a new president called Donald Trump,” Brujo said. “I don’t think that will be a good thing — and people will have to know what’s going on from our end.”

“Pocho Aztlan” will be released Sept. 16. You can find Brujeria’s tour dates here.

Interview: Testament’s Chuck Billy is ready for fans to join “The Brotherhood of the Snake”


Although the members of thrash legends Testament began writing songs for their newest burst of power, “The Brotherhood of the Snake” seemingly ages ago, actually getting the band into the studio to record the album proved to be a challenge.

“We’ve been working on this record for a year and a half,” vocalist/lyricist Chuck Billy said during an interview in early August. “In the middle of the writing process, we had two tour offers (that delayed the project). It was a long process to get the record done.”

Testament are one of the Bay Area thrash bands that rightfully get mentioned in the same breath with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. The band released several solid thrash mini-classics like “The Legacy,” “The New Order” and “Practice What You Preach” in the ’80s and early ’90s — but the band achieved brilliance with “The Formation of Damnation” in 2008 and again in 2012 with the searing “Dark Roots of Earth”.

A band that releases an album once every four years would seem to have plenty of time to hone songs to perfection. But Testament’s busy touring schedule kept them even from finishing some of the songs destined for “Brotherhood of the Snake” before the band entered the studio earlier this year, Billy said.

“There was a lot of emotion, and anger, to get (the album) done,” Billy said.

Call it grace under pressure, then, because instead of being dissatisfied, Billy said the final tracks for “Brotherhood” are the best of the band’s career.

“The frustration and all the (pressure) to get it done came out in the music, and it really made the songs stand out,” Billy said. “I believe the songwriting on this record is beyond what we’ve done. ”

Going into it, we had heard some of the demo songs … but didn’t have a vision of the final record,” Billy said. When the band heard the final mixes for the disc, “we were saying, ‘holy sh*t, these are some good songs … I would say, in my opinion, it tops the catalog.”

Lyrically, the title track deals with religion and power, and was inspired by a creation story that hypothesizes humans were initially molded not as pure images of goodness, but as crude slave labor for an alien race that wanted to mine the earth’s gold.

But, as the story goes, humanity escaped that fate. Like Prometheus with the gift of fire, a sympathetic alien informed humans of their origins, and that they have spirits that reincarnate after death — a revelation that caused the humans to revolt.

“”It’s all about pure political power,” Billy said of the title track.

But other songs are firmly rooted in the present, taking on topics such as the legalization of marijuana, Billy said. And while the band addressed the 2001 terrorist attacks on “Formation of Damnation” with “The Evil Has Landed,” the band closes the loop on “Brotherhood” with “Neptune Spear,” a story about the Seal Team Six raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

“Some of the songs I’d written in 2014, and a lot of the songs went through four rewrites,” Billy said. Some of the lyrics were still being reviews “until I went into the studio,” he said.

While Billy is pleased with the end result, “I don’t ever want to do it that way again,” he said.

With “Brotherhood” scheduled to get the streets in late October, the band is preparing to play a number of European dates just prior to the release, before coming back to the states for a U.S. tour.

“I’d say, right now, Testament is a fine-tuned machine,” Billy said. Over the years, the band members have learned how to tour in a way that doesn’t leave them worn-out wrecks, which shows in the power of their live shows, Billy said.

“If you’re not comfortable, it comes across in your performance,” Billy said. Now, the band works to take care of themselves on the road.

“When you’re feeling good, it definitely helps your show,” Billy said.

Testament’s “Brotherhood of the Snake” is scheduled for release on Oct. 28


Interview: Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann on the band’s return and the inspiration for “Stalingrad”

Of all the classic metal bands that have staged successful resurrections in recent years, the return of  Accept seems the most unlikely.

The German power metal monsters appeared to have been the victims of their own success. In the 1980s, when the band was fronted by unearthly lead singer Udo Dirkschnieder and powered by the blazing guitars of Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank, Accept created a sound all their own; you may not have been able to tell Overkill from Nuclear Assault (or Winger from Trixter, for that matter), but the second Dirkschnieder began to sing, you knew you were listening to Accept. Really, there was just no one else like them.

The band also created a load of unforgettable songs. “Balls to the Wall,” was the Accept’s signature song — and it’s still the song that every single metal fan knows. The band’s ’80s output also included “Living For Tonight,” “Restless and Wild,” “Fast As A Shark,” and the epic “Metal Heart,” a song that contains the single most badass guitar solo of the decade.

But the problem of having a signature sound is that it seems tamper resistant. When Dirkschneider took a hiatus from Accept to pursue his solo career, Accept essentially stalled.

Although the band recorded three albums in the 1990s, they couldn’t recapture their ’80s success. The band reunited one last time with Dirkschneider for a string of European festival shows in 2005; when asked in 2007 if Accept would record a new album, Dirkschneider dismissed the idea, saying it would be have been a “disaster” and said trying to write new material “would destroy more than we would create.”

Strong words — but the rest of Accept didn’t believe them.

In 2010, Accept — with classic lineup members Hoffmann, Frank, bassist Peter Baltes, drummer Stefan Schwarzmann and new singer Mark Tornillo, of the American metal band TT Quick — released the astounding “Blood of the Nations,” an album that proved Dirkschneider wasn’t the sole source of the band’s fire.

Earlier this year, Accept released “Stalingrad: Brothers in Death,” a disc that is even more powerful than “Blood of the Nations.” If anything, Accept as hungry and ready to shock the world today as they were when they released “Restless and Wild” in 1982. Instead of coasting on their old material as a nostalgia act, Accept — with “Blood of the Nations” and “Stalingrad” — are making some of the best music of the band’s career.

As Hoffmann said in a recent phone interview before the start of the band’s U.S. tour with Kreator, the band’s new life came about almost by accident.

“We weren’t even looking for (a singer) and we weren’t thinking about doing a reunion,” Hoffmann said. “We happened to find Mark one day and we did a fun jam session.

“He came in and we decided very spontaneously, ‘this guy sounds awesome; why don’t we ask him to be our front man?'” Hoffmann said. “He reminded us a bit of Udo and he had some aspects he brought to the table that were even better.”

With “Stalingrad,” the band tackles the horrors of World War II from two decidedly different perspectives. “Stalingrad” focuses on the suffering of the individual soldiers — German and Soviet — and points out that the men who did all the fighting and dying in that battle were a lot more alike than their leaders would have wanted them to believe.

“At the end of the day, mayn people are dying” during the battle, Hoffmann said. “In their last moments on the battlefield, two opposing soldiers realize, ‘this is really for nothing and we’re really much closer to each other than you would think.'”

Was it awkward for a German band to write a song based on the German invasion of the Soviet Union?

“I wouldn’t call it awkward,” Hoffmann said. “There’s a certain awareness; we’ve always been a band that dealt with controversy, we’ve always dealt with difficult topics. We’ve never liked doing lyrics that are cliché.”

The band returns to World War II with “Hell Fire: Dresden,” a song about the February 1945 Allied bombing of the Dresden, where somewhere between 25,000 and 45,000 people were killed after intensive bombing obliterated much of the city. The bombing caused an outcry in both Britain and America over the loss of life and the destruction of a city at a time when the war was already nearing its end.

Like “Stalingrad,” “Hellfire” focuses not on the politics of the war, but on the suffering of those dying in the bombed city.

“This is one of those forgotten stories” of the war,” Hoffman said. “If we hadn’t done ‘Stalingrad,’ we wouldn’t have thought to do anything like that. We came across the firebombing of Dresden, which was totally unnecessary, and we thought, ‘that should be another story.'”

But “Stalingrad” is not a concept album; the band tackles numerous topics, such as the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (“Never Forget”), economic recession (“Revolution”) and the price paid by soldiers who died for rest in places like Arlington National Cemetery (“Shadow Soldiers”).

Is the album hematically heavy in places? Sure. Is it even downright moving at times? Oh yes (just try not to get a bit teary on the solo for “Shadow Soldiers”). But ‘thematically heavy’ and “moving” doesn’t mean that Accept has forgotten how to rock or have fun.

“Hellfire,” “Revolution” and “Stalingrad” are fist-pumping anthems and the galloping “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” and “Flash to Bang Time” are sonic blasts. You won’t be crying into your beer with this disc.

For “Stalingrad,” the band was once again joined by Andy Sneap, who produced “Blood of the Nations.” Sneap was so excited about a possible Accept reunion that he tracked the band down with an offer to produce a new album before Accept were ready to go into the studio to record the songs that became “Blood.”

For the new album, Sneap acted as both producer and adviser, Hoffmann said.

“He’s part of the team,” Hoffmann said. “In Andy’s case, he’s an engineering guy, but he’s there early on, picking out the right songs. He’s picking out riffs and picking out stuff he likes as an Accept fan.”

The band felt trying to rise to the level of “Blood of the Nations” was a challenge, Hoffmann said.

“A little bit of pressure is quite good,” Hoffmann said. “I welcome a little bit of pressure. If you have a great album that you need to match or surpass, that’s awesome. At every turn of events, I think it’s has good as ‘Blood of the Nations.'”

After several decades in music, Hoffmann said he still enjoys touring — or at least the time on stage.

“It goes through phases; there are times you enjoy it immensely and there are times you wish it were over,” Hoffmann said. “Usually, the payback time is on stage … it’s really why you suffer through that miserable 22 hours, to be on stage for two hours.”

*** Accept will play Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville at 8 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 9. Assisting Sorrow, Two Pump Chump, Stagecoach Inferno and Rockaway Drive will open the show. Tickets are $25.  For tickets, visit

Interview: Municipal Waste’s Ryan Waste talks “The Fatal Feast”

The members of Richmond, Virginia’s Municipal Waste took a good long time — for them — to write and record their newly released punk-metal crossover messterpiece “The Fatal Feast.” To prepare, the band gave themselves a window of time when they weren’t under a pressing record company deadline and weren’t burned out from trying to wedge recording in between tours.

Guitarist Ryan Waste says the extra time spent preparing “The Fatal Feast” made a big difference in the band’s state of mind and in the songs.

“It was more relaxed,” Waste said. “We took a year off and got our heads together in general. We came up with stuff without being so tired from the road; we were excited to write and I think it shows.”

“The Fatal Feast” is fast, nasty and pummeling and combines traditional Waste gory dark humor (“New Dead Masters,” “Jesus Freaks” and the cannibalistic title track) with moments of Dead Kennedyesque political consciousness (“Standards and Practices”) and wacky party time insanity (“Covered in Sick/The Barfer,” “You’re Cut Off”). Musically, “The Fatal Feast” is brutal stuff, like a faster tongue-in-cheek “Reign in Blood.”

“We put the bar pretty high on ourselves,” Waste said. “I think, for our own sanity, we wanted to take a little time off and going between labels (from Earache to Nuclear Blast) was the best time to do that — and the end result is one of our best albums.”

If not as consistently politically active as the band’s last album for Earache, “Massive Aggressive,” it’s clear from songs like “Standards and Practices” that Municipal Waste has a political cutting edge. Waste said the band likes the dichotomy of mixing wacky horror tales with moments of social consciousness.

“We want to have fun — but you have to touch on the serious stuff,” Waste said. Any resemblance to the sentiments in “Standards and Practices” and the Occupy Wall Street movement, however, is purely coincidental.

“We wrote that before all of that (Occupy Wall Street) was coming down,” Waste said. “Maybe that was the Waste predicting the future.”

The album is classic Municipal Waste, Ryan Waste said. “It’s almost like a Waste best-of, with the old-school feel,” he said. “But, we’ve covered new ground and I got to do some new leads.

“There are some Motorhead tempos,” Waste said. “That has always been our specialty — its like A.D.D. speed metal.”

The band strives for its brand of musical perfection, Waste said. “We’ve never been a technical band, but we do want to keep you on your toes,” Waste said.

The band recently finished up a string of dates with GWAR and will be hitting the road for another trek across the U.S. in late May. After that, the band will play a June date in the U.K. and a few shows in France in July.

“This year is going to be the year of the Waste wasting the world,” Ryan Waste said. “We’re doing our own headlining tour and we’re going over (to Europe) to do the festivals.” When not touring with Municipal Waste, Ryan Waste will be touring with his side-band, Volture. Meanwhile Waste bassist Phil “Landfill” Hall will also be touring at times this year with his side project, Cannabis Corpse. Drummer Dave Witte, who also plays with King Generator and Birds of Prey, will also be touring this year.

Side projects, Waste said, do not interfere with Municipal Waste.

“There’s no jealousy,” Waste said. “Everyone wants to give that creative freedom. It’s what keeps (Municipal Waste) fresh.”

Interview: Michael LePond of Symphony X talks touring, songwriting and the robot revolution of “Iconoclast”

“High concept” metal can be pretentious crap.

You know it’s true, because you’ve heard “high concept” metal, too. Think of all the times you’ve heard one of Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s attempts to classy-up his albums with a bit of classical noodling. Yes, he’s stellar at arpeggios and I like some of his more straight-forward songs (“I Am A Viking!” Yea!)  … but every time Yngwie tries to reinterpret Johann Sebastian, Schubert, Sherbert or Stravinsky through his Strat, I fall asleep.

High mindedness doesn’t always translate well to metal lyrics, either. When it comes to concept albums, for every “Tommy” there are 20 “Mr. Robotos” out there. Sure, Queensryche pulled if off with their rock opera, “Operation: Mindcrime” … but W.A.S.P.’s attempt at rock opera, “The Crimson Idol” sounded … well, it sounded like exactly what you would have expected from the auteur who gave us “Animal (F**k Like A Beast).”  Hell, even Queensryche couldn’t make lightning strike twice.

So I get a bit nervous when a band goes all high art on me, but the band that did it better than anyone else in 2011 is New Jersey’s Symphony X, with their dystopian, machines-destroy-mankind magnum opus, “Iconoclast.”

“Iconoclast” works because Symphony X — unlike, say, Queensryche on “American Soldier” or the second half of “Operation: Mindcrime II,” doesn’t try to run away from their metal roots. Rather, “Iconoclast” is filled with blistering riffs and brutal musicianship.

Guitarist Michael Romeo is considered on the top guitarists in metal for a reason; the man shreds — but only in the service of the songs and never in a “listen to how clean my sweep picking is” sort of way. He’s got Yngwie’s chops, but he’s no Yngwie — and I mean that in a good way.

The rest of the band — multi-octive bellower Russell Allen, drumming machine Jason Rullo, bassist Michael LePond and keyboardist Michael Pinnella — are equally as powerful. Symphony X are thinking man’s metal with balls and “Iconoclast” is both thought-provoking and heavier than an dinosaur killing asteroid.

Don’t believe me? Then I suggest you hear for yourself.

The band recently wrapped up a sprint across the U.S. with buddies Iced Earth and Warbringer. If you missed them on that particular U.S. jaunt, you’ll have to wait — the band will be playing National Open Air Brazil on April 20 and then will cross the pond for the summer Euro festival circuit before returning home to play the ProgPower festival in Atlanta in September.

Given the choice, bassist LePond would spend much more of the year on the road.

“I’m the guy who likes touring the most,” LePond said, during a quick phone interview on the second-to-last stop of the Iced Earth tour. “As long as I can stay healthy and well, I could tour constantly. The other guys have wives and kids.”

The ominous concept for “Iconoclast” — machines replace, enslave and destroy humanity –came from a rather innocent twist of the knob in the recording studio while the band was working on song ideas, LePond said.

“Michael Romeo was messing around with these robotic little sounds — not industrial, but almost,” LePond said. “We experimented with that. As we put the songs together, we came up with a concept where technology goes too far in striving for perfection and the machines take over.”

But are we already slaves to technology, even without a “Robopocalypse” style machine takeover? LePond said the argument that we’re already enslaved by our electronic “helpers” could easily be made.

“It seems that way. Things have changed so much; when you go out to dinner with your friends, everybody is staring at their phones,” LePond said.

Those kinds of questions come readily to the Symphony X fans LePond meets on the road. While broadening minds is not explicitly the band’s goal, LePond said he appreciates fans who take the band’s interpretations of “The Odyssey” and “Paradise Lost” and then do their own research.

“A lot of them will hear an album and read the lyrics and go back and read Homer and John Milton,” LePond said. “Our fans like to be challenged. They like to learn and listen to the music. They’ll always ask questions.”

Musically, the band is every bit as intricate as the literary sources of inspiration.

“People come to me and say, ‘wow, I’ve listened to that album and I have to keep listening, because every time I hear something new,” LePond said. Considering the amount of music packed into each song, it won’t surprise fans when LePond say the music can be difficult to play.

“They’re very challenging. It takes a lot of practice,” LePond said.

National Open Air Brazil — which also features heavyweights like Exodus, Megadeth and Venom — will put Symphony X on stage in front of 80,000 screaming metal fans.

“It’s going to be the biggest show we have ever done in our career,” LePond said. Over the summer “we’ll go and do Europe for about 10 days; then in September, we’re going to do a show in Mexico City and them we’re playing ProgPower. Then we’ll be in full writing mode for another record.”

“Iconoclast” was released in 2011; before that, the band released “Paradise Lost” in 2007 and “The Odyssey” in 2002. Does that mean fans can expect the band’s next album in 2016?

“I certainly hope not,” LePond said. “What we’re shooting for is, hopefully, this summer we’re going to start working on songwriting. I think the next recording will come out in 2014, hopefully.

“Just putting together the songs takes a lot of time,” LePond said. “That’s the thing we feel bad about — we’d like to put out the albums quicker, but we don’t want to put out any filler.”

Factory Damage to end career by opening for Anthrax Jan. 29 in Louisville

Every rock musician who picks up a guitar or set of drumsticks dreams of sharing a stage with their idols. Very few musicians and bands ever get that opportunity.

But Owensboro’s Factory Damage have had a little more success than the average band; over the past seven years, the band has played shows with major-label metal bands such as Exodus, Powerman 5,000, Warbringer and Malevolent Creation.

On Jan. 29, Factory Damage will play the last show of the band’s career in Louisville when they open for thrash metal legends Anthrax at Expo Five.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” said band guitarist Ed Young. “If you had said to me when we started this band seven years ago we would be opening for Anthrax, I would have said, ‘you’re dreaming.’ ”

Life in a local band anywhere is difficult — there aren’t any lavish backstage parties, tour buses or bowls of M&Ms with all the brown ones picked out for aspiring garage bands. Instead, hungry local bands can look forward to loading and unloading their own gear, traveling in cramped, overloaded vans and constantly scrambling to find gigs.

“Opening for Warbringer, we saw them pull up in a cargo van (instead of a tour bus),” Young said. “Right then I realized, ‘this is a whole lot harder than anyone thinks.’ ”

Young said the constant search for new shows to play wore the band thin over time. “There’s no metal scene” in Owensboro, Young said. Most local bars require bands to play cover songs.

The band decided to call it quits in September. “It didn’t end on a bad note,” vocalist Chris Hedges said. “We needed time for our families. The stress and hassle of trying to constantly book shows took a toll on all of us.”

“We’re not teenagers,” Young said. “We’ve all got jobs. My kids are getting older, and I don’t want to miss any of it.”

The band was scheduled to play its last show in Louisville opening for Down — a supergroup of sorts containing former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo and members of Crowbar and Corrosion of Conformity. But life intervened and Factory Damage had to bow out of the gig.

But the band didn’t want to end their career on a low note. So, when Young learned the Louisville music promoter Terry Harper had booked Anthrax, Testament and Death Angel to play Expo Five, he asked Harper if the band could join the bill.

“Terry was really understanding” when the band dropped off the Down show, Young said. “When I saw Anthrax pop up on his website, I had to ask him, because Anthrax was a huge influence on me.

“Terry has been really great for this band,” Young said. “I guess he likes us.”

Getting ready for the show has been a challenge. Some members of the band, such as longtime drummer Scott Doughty, are unable to perform because of work. To fill out the bill, the Young and Hedges recruited a drummer and bassist from other local bands.

“They’re picking up (the songs) really quickly,” Hedges said.

“We’re practicing pretty much nonstop,” Young said.

Although the band is retiring from music for now, there’s always the possibility of getting back together in the future, Hedges said. But, if not, the band is calling it quits with no regrets.

“We’ve had a lot of fun doing it,” Young said. “There have been more good times than bad.”

“It’s almost cliché … but when you get out on the stage, all the stress (of life) is gone,” Hedges said. “The show hits, and it’s awesome.”

“It’s a whole other world when you get out there (on stage), whether it’s 20 people or 500,” Young said.

Anthrax, Testament, Death Angel, Factory Damage, Stonecutters, Overload and Maltese Cross will perform at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Expo Five in Louisville. Tickets are $25. Factory Damage is selling tickets to the show; for tickets, e-mail or visit

Interview: Municipal Waste guitarist Ryan Waste ready to get back to band’s trademark punk-metal attack

Reviewing music is a pretentious business. Just look around the Web and you’ll find scads of half-educated, opinionated dolts like me trying to find something meaningful to say about every damn album that plops onto their desks.

Thing is, most of our smart-guy opinions are 99 percent crap. “Oh yes, most people think ‘Deliverance’ is about a man drowning his beloved, but it’s really about a time when Mikael Akerfeldt couldn’t get it up in Japan.” But is it really? Every music review is subjective, so perhaps the reviewer is subconsciously being influenced by the time he couldn’t get it up in Japan. You see? There’s no “truth” in most music reviews, but there’s a ton of bogus-intellectual claptrap and self-congratulatory yap. Take it from me, I know.

And that, my friends, is why I love bands like Municipal Waste. You don’t have to rack your brain on a song like “Knife Fight” or “Blood Hunger,” cuz everything you need to know about the meaning of the song is right there in the title. What’s “Poseur Disposer” about? It’s about a thing that friggin’ shreds poseurs, that’s what it’s about, baby.

But being straightforward lyrically doesn’t mean Municipal Waste is musically simple. On the contrary; it takes a lot of work to cram so many riffs and hooks into a 47 second song like “Dropped Out” or to hammer out a 13 second manic masterpiece like “Death Prank.”

The Richmond, Va. band’s first album, “Waste Em All” was like “Reign in Blood” boiled down to a shorter, even-nastier thrashing machine, with an S.O.D. sense of goofy black humor and a Dead Kennedy’s viciousness in Ryan Waste’s unrelenting riffage. It was fun — mosh-out, head-bang, kick-butt fun.

“Hazardous Mutation” was also a blast — and sonically very much like Metallica on meth (check out “Unleash the Bastards” and tell me that doesn’t sound like “Kill Em All” Metallica if James had given up singing and grabbed a hard-core punk to be Met’s new frontman).

“The Art of Partying” — to make yet another comparison — is “Seasons in the Abyss” at supersonic speed, musically intricate and rifftastic, but not nearly as self-serious as “Seasons.” I mean really, “The Inebriator” is totally “Dead Skin Mask” — but sixteen times faster and not nearly so full-of-itself. And the title track, “The Art of Partying” is amazingly crushing and fun — it’s music for smashing the furniture and throwing the TV out the hotel room window.

While Municipal Waste evolved its sound over the years, there’s a sense that Ryan Waste feels the band strayed too far from its dirty punk roots and gross-out humor on their 2009 release, “Massive Aggressive.”  In a recent interview, Waste said the band — which is recording tracks for its next album — wanted to get back to the feel of their earlier thrash epics.

“It sounds like an old Waste record,” Ryan Waste said of the new material. “We’re bringing the old Waste and bringing the old themes back. We’re keeping the music heavy. (Lyrically), it’s still tongue in cheek — songs about death, with our sense of humor.

“We’re producing it,” Ryan Waste said. “We’re not a pretentious band; we don’t need a big-name producer to make Municipal Waste sound like Municipal Waste.”

The band was about half-way through the recording process at the time of the interview, Ryan Waste said. “It’s totally written, but I’m trying to put some (guitar) spice in it,” he said.

It’s hard to fault Municipal Waste for wanting to broaden their lyrical horizons on “Massive Aggressive;” after all, the band was heavily inspired by punks like Dead Kennedys and D.R.I. — and god knows those guys weren’t afraid of tackling political and social issues in their songs.

“Massive Aggressive” dealt with some pretty serious topics, such as media manipulation, environmental destruction and religion. To be fair, the songs were good and the attitude on “Massive Aggressive” was definitely punk — but the songs lacked the short, brutal sucker punch of “Waste Em All” and “The Art of Partying.”

The upcoming album won’t be quite as thematically serious as “Massive Aggressive” tracks like “Upside Down Cross,” Ryan Waste said.

“We’re not trying to be a serious band,” he said. “We’re just being ourselves. The songs will be more like the quick head kicks of “Waste Em All,” Waste said.

“We started out with songs that were three minutes-plus,” Ryan Waste said of the new material. “We forced ourselves to write some shorter songs.” Keeping the intensity of punk rock at the core of Municipal Waste is crucial to the band, because they’re passionate about punk rock, he said.

“Me and Tony grew up listening to punk,” he said. “The only kind of metalheads I like are the ones that appreciate punk. I always considered Municipal Waste a punk band … it’s a (mixing) of punk rock with heavy metal.”

On previous albums, the band sped through the recording process — something they didn’t want to do with the new album, Ryan Waste said.

“We’ve never really took the time like we did on this record,” he said. “… We took the year off from touring to record. Everything we’ve done has been rushed and we didn’t want to rush this one.”

The time off from touring was needed as well; after a brutal touring schedule for “Massive Aggressive,” the band members needed time recharge themselves and get ready to write and record the as-yet-unnamed new album.

“We had a rough year touring (in 2010); it was non-stop,” Ryan Waste said. “Everyone needed some time off. You don’t want to come home and practice (after) you’ve been sitting in the (tour) van for a year.”

The new album, which is due early next year, will be the band’s first with Nuclear Blast records. “Massive Attack” was the last album the band recorded for their three-album deal with Earache.

Having a new label gave the band new energy, Ryan Waste said.

“We’ve got something to prove. You want to do your best to show it has gotten better,” he said.

Currently, the band has only one show booked in the near future — a Nov. 4 show at NYC’s Gramercy Theatre, as one of the headliners of the “Metal Suckfest.” Ryan Waste said he is starting to get anxious to get back on the road.

“I’m actually missing touring now,” he said. “We usually go out a lot more … You’re not a band unless you’re a live band. It’s feeding off the energy (of the crowd).”