By Dave Pehling
BERKELEY (CBS SF) — Popular Virginia-based crossover punk/thrash metal band Municipal Waste brings their “Speed of Wizard Tour” to the UC Theatre with punk supergroup OFF!, like-minded headbangers Toxic Holocaust and more Saturday.
Originally slated to be a co-headlining package tour featuring Municipal Waste and Bay Area metal heroes High on Fire sharing stages across the country, the “Speed of Wizard Tour” hit a roadblock when HoF guitarist Matt Pike’s emergency amputation of a toe forced the band to drop out of the picture. Organizers have managed to keep the traveling metal celebration on course by inviting a variety of regional guests to participate, including a rare performance from thrash greats Nuclear Assault for the NYC show and the addition of both OFF! and caustic Bay Area metal trio Necrot for the Berkeley date.
One of the leading crossover punk/thrash revivalists touring today, Municipal Waste were founded in Richmond, Virgina in 2001. Led by singer Tony Foresta and guitarist Ryan Waste, the quintet crafts a hectic brand of metal-infused hardcore that nods to the sounds made by ’80s greats D.R.I., Agnostic Front and early Corrosion of Conformity and the thrash stylings of the Bay Area’s own Exodus. A string of singles and EPs for several independent labels eventually led to a deal with Earache Records.
Municipal Waste further refined it’s often humorous, horror-focused style of metal on two celebrated recordings — 2005’s Hazardous Mutation and The Art of Partying two years later before eventually moving on to its current label home at Nuclear Blast Records. The band plays songs from its latest effort, last year’s Slime and Punishment.
The group is joined by OFF!, the current project of SoCal hardcore pioneer Keith Morris. One of the founders of the band that would eventually become Black Flag — they were initially known as Panic in 1976 — Morris and his corrosive howl would help define the sound of hardcore punk the band’s groundbreaking debut Nervous Breakdown EP in 1978.
Personal issues with co-founding guitarist Greg Ginn led Morris to leave the band that same year, but the singer landed on his feet soon afterwards when he started Circle Jerks with former Redd Kross guitarist (and future member of Bad Religion) Greg Hetson. Like Black Flag, the group would emerge as one of the cornerstone bands of the burgeoning Southern California punk scene, appearing in the seminal 1981 documentary The Decline of Western Civilization and Alex Cox’s landmark movie Repo Man while putting out a string of influential albums during the decade.
The band went on an extended hiatus in 1990, but periodically reunited to record and tour well into the 2000s. It was during an abortive attempt at recording a new Circle Jerks album in 2009 that led to an acrimonious split as everyone from the band except Morris demanded the firing of producer Dimitri Coats (at the time best known as the leader of the band Burning Brides).
Instead, Morris and Coats enlisted Redd Kross bassist Steven McDonald and drummer Mario Rubalcaba (Hot Snakes, Rocket from the Crypt, Earthless and numerous other bands) to form the punk supergroup OFF! The caustic, minute-long blasts heard on a string of EPs hearkened back to the caustic ferocity of Morris’ earliest songs with Black Flag as OFF! earned fans young and old with extensive touring. The quartet followed up its initial releases with steady stream of singles and two subsequent albums, 2012’s eponymous effort and Wasted Years in 2014.
Even with the absence of Bay Area metal heroes High on Fire, the balance of the Speed of Wizard Tour makes this holiday weekend show at the UC Theatre one of the local concert season’s highlights. Portland, OR-based thrash band Toxic Holocaust has been led by talented guitarist Joel Grind for nearly 20 years. Local trio Necrot brings a raw proto thrash-metal intensity that recalls classic Venom, while opening Fresno band Haunt (led by Beastmaker guitarist Trevor William Church), plays songs from the band’s spectacular Shadow Kingdom Records debut Burst Into Flame that echoes the classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound of Iron Maiden and Angel Witch.
The Speed of Wizard Tour with Municipal Waste, OFF! and more
Saturday, Nov. 24, 6 p.m. $27.50