Municipal Waste + Gel + Undeath – The Craufurd Arms, Wolverton – 4th October 2023


Tonight’s gig reminds me of an old school package tour; something like 1990’s Clash Of The Titans, and it finds young upstarts tangling with the old guard, and in cataclysmic fashion. Since bursting out of New York in late 2018, Undeath have taken the world by storm and appear to be an unstoppable force of nature. Their reputation has been built upon a ferocious live set, and that which they deliver tonight doesn’t disappoint. It’s not often that an opening band fills a venue, but it’s standing room only as the band appear and launch into ‘Rise From The Grave’, and the crowd ignite like spark to tinder. An Undeath show is more like a hardcore gig, and there’s plenty of wrecking stage front, alongside the obligatory circle and mosh pits. The new tracks unveiled go down extremely smooth (especially ‘Brandish The Blade’) and bode well for promised album, but as a finale the band take us back to their genesis with ‘Lesions Of A Different Kind’ and ensures they depart in style (which is exactly as they arrived).

Every so often there comes a band who makes you re-evaluate what you thought you knew about music, and New Jersey’s Gel are one such band. While it is true that they aren’t reinventing the wheel, their fast, in-your-face brand of hardcore is rather refreshing. There’s a confrontational element to their sound that’s hard to ignore, and that feeling is only heightened by vocalist Sami Kaiser who prowls the stage like a soul possessed. However, the whole band are on fire, each member an atom in a nuclear generator and when they fuse on stage, you can bet your bottom dollar that the particles start flying. Opening with the irresistible chug of ‘Predominant Mask’ things rarely let up over forty furious minutes. Gel distil hardcore into its purest form; there’s hardly any meat on the bones, but that only makes their attack all the more vicious and by the time we reach set closer ‘Out Of Mind’ we are left feeling battered and bruised, but in the best possible way.

For those of us whose memories are now longer than our (receding) hair, it’s hard to believe that Municipal Waste now qualify as “old school”, but having been in the game for over 20 years, no other term will suffice. After the serious posturing’s of the alternative 1990s, this crew blazed a train out of Richmond, Virginia, and injected some much needed fun into music, and they’ve been lighting up stages ever since. The mixture of metal and punk has always been a volatile brew, and that peddled by Municipal Waste has always been particularly potent. It’s a blend that’s always been conducive drunken debauchery and songs such as ‘Beer Pressure’ and ‘The Art Of Partying’ are the musical equivalent of having an army of frat boys chanting “Go! Go! Go!” while you down shots in a bar. Even if you’re tea-total, the life-affirming nature of Municipal Waste’s songs will initiate a chemical realignment in your brain and you’ll be chanting those goofy choruses along with the rest. However, don’t mistake Municipal Waste as some kind of joke, when the riff of ‘Deathripper’ rings out they’re all business and proceed to deliver an abject lesson in crossover thrash. Punks, metalheads and skaters all rub shoulders as swirling circle pits erupt and crowd surfers are thrown around like beach balls. As you’d expect from a band of their vintage, Municipal Waste deliver a set that ebbs and flows perfectly with ‘Sadistic Magician’ and ‘Headbanger Face Rip’ going down extremely well. At just 60-minutes, this is a fairly short set, but in truth they’ve packed more into that hour than most bands pack into an entire career and true to the old adage, it certainly leaves us hungry for more and eagerly awaiting their return.