Atrophy – Asylum (Massacre Records)

Monday, 11th March 2024
Rating: 8 / 10

During the first wave of thrash in the 1980s to early 90s, acts from all over the globe clamored for a piece of the burgeoning appeal that had a fervent fanbase captivated by the speedy tempos, machine gun riffs, and relentless headbanging energy present in the music. In Arizona, many will remember the work of Flotsam & Jetsam and Sacred Reich – but a third act who developed attention through albums like Socialized Hate and Violent by Nature would be Atrophy. Back again for their third studio record Asylum (and first in 34 years!), vocalist Brian Zimmerman has assembled a new set of members that continue to revel in the heavy riffs, solid mid-tempo pit-friendly transitions, and fierce vocal presence which should elevate bodies in jumping, fist pumping motion.

You want gallop-oriented riffs with a seething, rhythmic-laden vocal delivery? Look no further than “Bleeding Out” to satisfy that craving. Bay Area-oriented bullet train guitars punctuated by slamming, steady snare/kick action where the fills sprout at all the right spots – that’s opener “Punishment For All” in a nutshell. One of the standout aspects to this record takes place in the main riffs to solo departments – guitarists Mark Coglan and Nathan Montalvo pulling out all the stops in the tapping, shredding, or neoclassical knowledge banks to make the twin harmony into separate break movements for “Seeds of Sorrow” a necessary highlight, while the slower, controlled “Close My Eyes” pushes the limit in an early Testament meets Forbidden manner for this aspect. Hunger elevates the songwriting plus performances as if no time has passed – a swirling mix of mid-tempo to slightly faster bangers that swirl in the classic template, yet benefiting from thicker, fuller production values courtesy of Paladin’s Alex Parra allow every note to be felt through your favored listening device. Societal ills become themes once again for the lyrical scope – everything from brainwashing by major news networks to the insurrection, as well as daily struggles for the common man that most ardent metal followers can easily relate to.

Legacy groups struggle with reclaiming status as fans prefer revisiting the past versus accepting new products from these artists. In the case of Atrophy through Asylum, this scribe believes they’ve maintained the right attitude to deliver strong thrash material that straddles what put them on the map but also could propel them to a second (or third) generation of metalheads because we are in the presence of top-notch performances.

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