Review Summary: Atrophy displays a refined approach to songwriting, with many positive changes to their sound.
1990 seemed to be the climax of the thrash metal movement, as it was all downhill after that year. The scene began to unravel with the onset of grunge and other alternative rock genres. Once successful thrash bands were now not selling records and were quickly dropped from their labels, resulting in many bands disbanding or fading into obscurity. Even smaller bands such as Sacred Reich and Atrophy were impacted by this. Hailing from Tucson Arizona, Atrophy formed in 1986 during the heyday of thrash metal. 1990 saw Atrophy’s second and final album. For their sophomoric effort, the band retained its previous lineup, and respected producer Bill Metoyer would also once again be handling production for the album.
In the past, Atrophy struggled to find their own sound, and instead elected to more or less imitate their influences. All that changed with their second effort. Violent by Nature displays a band coming into a sound and style all there own. The band remains talented, playing a slightly technical brand of thrash, however this time around the band sounds more concentrated and mature. The album displays more variation with regards towards guitar solos and riffs, with some melodic guitar intros and solos displayed on songs such as “Too Late to Change and “Process of Elimination”. The band also chose to incorporate more backing vocals into some of the tracks, unlike their debut album. Production is also top notch, as the album has a clean, clear and loud enough sound, and every instrument can be heard clearly.
With a refined approach to songwriting and many positive changes to the band’s sound, the album surely has more positive aspects then negative. However, not everything is perfect. The riffing and drumming can become quite repetitive at times, and not surprisingly, little or no emphasis is placed on the bass guitar, although it remains more or less audible. The vocals also remain a weakness of the band. Front-man Brian Zimmerman’s vocals are rough and show little variation in range and style. The vocals will surely be an obstacle for newcomers trying to give this album a try, and are hit or miss as far as I’m concerned. Aside from the rough vocals, there are many more positive aspects that will appease even the pickiest of metal-heads.
Despite changes to sound and style and the apparent lack of aggression found on their debut, Atrophy still retained their energetic and intense approach to playing. At a little over forty minutes, the album never lets up, with exception towards melodic intros and solos of course. Atrophy’s overall out look remains less then cheery. Subject matter is bleak, bitter, and confrontational, with issues such as war, violence and various social issues being brought to the forefront of the album.
Although Violent by Nature would be the band’s final effort, the album is a definite step up in almost every way imaginable from their debut. It is truly enjoyable to hear the gradual maturity of the band, and while Socialized Hate certainly has its merits, this album truly takes the cake. Atrophy isn’t around anymore, but they left behind an album worthy of a listen from those who can appreciate thrash metal.
- Puppies and Friends
- Too Late to Change
- Process of Elimination
- Things Change