Atrophy: Asylum


Massacre Records
Released: 3/15/2024

As a long time thrash fan; I'm blitzed out of my mind getting an opportunity to review new Atrophy in 2024. My first introduction to the band goes way back to 1990 when I bought Violent by Nature. This was the band's sophomore release and it left an indelible mark on my young thrash-fuelled mind. I played that album to death, but I was quickly bummed out when the news broke about Atrophy breaking up in ‘93. I was completely devastated by that news, but the mid 90's wasn't kind to many thrash bands spawned from the 80's.

We won't rehash what transpired in the 90's, but it's safe to say the advent of grunge had a lot to do with it. Bands like Atrophy became yesterday's news and that really saddened me. It took another full decade and a half before the thrash genre made a comeback; making way for a new crop of bands popping up again all over the world. Atrophy did reform in 2015 with many old and new members coming and going, but when original vocalist Brian Zimmerman split in 2020 (during COVID), I guess this was the end of it. That reformed line-up did find another vocalist and changed their name to Scars of Atrophy.

However, a year later Brian returned with a new line-up and Atrophy was back in business. Surprisingly, this new group of players are all extremely talented and explicit in their desire to bring the classic sound back to the masses.

Upon my first go through, I found the songs robust and energetic. Not to mention the blistering solos and thoughtfully written lyrics. This was all adding up to be the comeback album of the year and as soon as it ended, I dove back in for a second go around. I just love the energy and technical approach to the guitars; not to mention the killer attitude brought into the songwriting.

This is Atrophy's third release entitled "Asylum" and it brings along nine blistering tracks of thrash goodness. "Punishment for All" is the first single released and starts out strong as the album opener with relentless pacing and a mega chug to boot. They sound so tight with a flourish of glorious riffing and overall thrash attitude added in. Zimmerman's familiar snarl is front and centre and you can tell he means business with this new line-up. The song is followed up with the serious crunch of "High Anxiety" and a Chuck Billy like growl from Brian right at the start. The riffs are fresh and meaty and this may be my favourite track so far.

There's some serious chug going on with "Seeds of Sorrow" due in large part to the relentless pacing and frantic structure as a whole. The riffing continues to shine solely on the tandem of Mark Coglan and Natham Montalvo trading off solos and nailing it every time out. The next track "Distortion" is a punishing number overall and provides tons of bite, while the lyrics make reference to the lies being told through Government and religion. The lyrics are a little vague, but this is how I interpreted them. The same can be said for "Bleeding Out" discussing the hypocrisy of society through the lyrics, but there is a tantalizing solo that springs up to tie the whole song together.

"American Dream" is a banger and waxes pessimistically on living the American dream. The big feature here is guest guitarist Kragen Lum contributing some blistering lead work that really stands out. He's a great player who I followed previously with the band Prototype and of course now with Heathen, so it's a neat coo to get him playing on a song. "Close My Eyes" is a beast of track with a heavy chug and accompanied by Brian's guttural vocals. Again, there is a melodic flourish with the solo that stood out to me.

Finally we come to the last two tracks. "The Apostle" starts out with a quote from the bible that is true wrath of God type of stuff. I like to think of this as incendiary thrash; chugging along at a steady pace and topped off with a wicked solo that twists and turns at breakneck speed. The band book-end this with "Five Minutes ‘Till Suicide", and again it starts out with a voice of a man warning the end is near. The song starts out mellow and then erupts with some vicious drumming. The meaty chug follows and we're off to the races. The solo breaks in with such incendiary flair, while Brian snarls away about coming to the asylum and ending your life. The lyrics are definitely dark as hell, but it fits well with the whole God is coming for vengeance angle on the previous song.

What I liked most about Asylum is the serious tone of the record. The solos are fresh and blistering; punctured with Brian's trademark snarling delivery on vocals. The lyrics really stand out and talk mostly about social issues, (lies, hatred, death) and political mockery. I've always been big on listening to the lyrics on an album and when done right with equally engaging music, you get a winner every time. Atrophy do it well on this new release and I do look forward to where Brian takes this new iteration of the band in 2024 and beyond. I very much do feel this is the comeback record of the year so far! I'm giving this a solid nine out of 10.

Best tracks; Punishment for All, High Anxiety, American Dream. The Apostle.

Kenneth Gallant, HMS

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More band info here:

Atrophy is an American thrash metal band formed in Tucson, Arizona. As a result of their fast-playing style and lyrical themes, the band has been compared to their thrash metal contemporaries Testament, Vio-lence, Forbidden, Sacred Reich and Nuclear Assault. – Wikipedia