Album Review: “Asylum” by Atrophy

Atrophy - Asylum : Target

Arizona thrash metal quintet Atrophy unleash some metal madness with its first record in 34 years, Asylum. Vocalist Brian Zimmerman is the sole original member and he has brought on four younger guys that breathe new life in to the band. The band gets right to business on the opener “Punishment For All.” The bludgeoning precision of the guitars and drums feels like a hit to the temple. The track shifts from speed to groove without sacrificing an ounce of heaviness. “High Anxiety” opens with a serpentine guitar line and slow groove that quickly shifts to pummeling drums and buzzing guitar riffs. It lacks the intensity of “Punishment” and meanders at times but upholds the mood of the album.

“Seeds of Sorrow” picks things up again and is straight thrashfest. The galloping riffs and double drumming are lockstep and Jonas Shutz throws some nice drums fills and a slick mid-tempo rhythm change during the track’s midsection. Nathan Montalvo and Mark Coglan are a strong guitar duo with riffs a plenty and soaring solos. Those plodding guitar riffs open “Distortion” in which the band slows down and Zimmerman belts out his disgust with the state of American politics and society. The lyrical cynicism is complemented by a haunting guitar interlude during the track’s midsection. “American Dream” is another biting thrash number with Heathen’s Krager Lum on guitar and Justin Stear of Alphakill on bass respectively. Lum shreds with neo-classical fervor and makes this another highlight. The semi-prog “Close My Eyes” is notable for its rhythm changes and it swinging riffs. “The Apostle” is another blistering number that criticizes religious hypocrisy and manipulative clergymen. Album closer “Five Minutes ‘Til Suicide” is the longest track on Asylum at six minutes, and ends the record as it began in brutal fashion.

Atrophy successfully blend of brutality and technicality to stellar effect on Asylum. The songwriting is dynamic but rarely banal with the sole exception of “Bleeding Out” being a tad bull. Manipulation and corruption are the main themes on the aptly titled Asylum. The current state of American affairs certainly feels like one is in a madhouse and Atrophy do not shy away from that. Alex Parra did a great job producing this record. The guitars have a solid bottom end and the drumming sounds crisp.

Atrophy are alive and kicking on Asylum. This is straight up thrash metal with a modern kick and reaffirms the sub-genre will remain relevant. Metal fans should definitely check out Asylum. This is old school metal madness.

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