Album: Violent By Nature
Genre: Thrash Metal
For a few weeks now I’ve been falling down a thrash metal rabbit hole by spending a large amount of time revisiting the music of my 14th year on this planet. On a timeline, that would equal the majority of the year 1985 when I was neck deep into what was the most extreme part of metal at that time. I traveled further and further down this hole by revisiting albums from 1986-1988, which were unarguably the strongest years for the genre. There are just so many classic bands to pick from…Destruction, Whiplash, Holy Terror, Coroner, Dark Angel, Razor, Sacred Reich and so on and so on. It’s been a fun little flashback to when music was all that mattered.
Just like the first waves of punk and hardcore, things started to fizzle out in the years to come. By the time 1989/1990 hit, everything was on a decline. The heavy hitters were putting out albums that, for lack of a better description, were boring. Just check out Souls Of Black or Impact Is Imminent or State Of Euphoria and, yes, even And Justice For All and compare them to their predecessors. The spirit was there, but thrash already sounded processed and tired. By the time the 90s hit, thrash metal was entering its 3rd generation of bands who, for the most part, brought nothing new or exciting to the metal altar and was being overtaken by up and coming metal sub genres. Some exceptions did exist, and Arizona’s Atrophy was one of them.
Atrophy’s short career consisted of two records, the debut Socialized Hate and their final release Violent By Nature, which were relatively interchangeable. The albums are close to mirror images of each other in both writing and production. Although it may not make any difference, I choose to prattle on about Violent By Nature because I feel it is a bit faster, heavier and is a touch more comprehensive than their first record. Right out of the gate, “Puppies and Friends” lets you know they are not fucking around, and they put all the lessons they learned from the past masters into action. Atrophy harnessed the energy of Violence and threw it together with the crunch of Exodus/Nuclear Assault. Vocalist Brian Zimmerman is quite unique. He never really goes over the top, but sounds as if he’s been on a three-day screaming bender prior to going to the recording studio. To say he’s got grit in his delivery is an understatement. His tone gives Atrophy some major identity and his words were not the typical slash and hack and burn the world lyrics and dealt with personal and societal issues. The album rolls on at a furious pace and although the production is pretty slick, it’s still raw, thick and heavy. The song structures are done in a such a way that their technical nature doesn’t weigh it down. There is a lot going on in the music, but Atrophy have a knack for making it sound straight forward so it doesn’t ever get boring. I find myself revisiting Atrophy a couple times a year. They are one of the few bands that were successful in trying to keep the thrash metal flame burning while everything was slowly becoming groove metal. Thanks a lot Pantera. Yes, that's sarcasm. I hate Pantera.
Listen to "Puppies And Friends" here.