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Asylum

United States Country of Origin: United States

Asylum
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: March 15th, 2024
Genre: Thrash
1. Punishment For All
2. High Anxiety
3. Seeds Of Sorrow
4. Distortion
5. Bleeding Out
6. American Dream
7. Close My Eyes
8. The Apostle
9. Five Minutes 'Til Suicide


Review by Felix on March 26, 2024.

Thrash will has and will ever have the right of existence. In its best form, it is second to none concerning energy, sharpness and courage. In particular energy plays a crucial part. It is therefore an ironic twist of fate that Atrophy have slept for damned 34 years. Do you agree that people who were just a distant thought in the universe at the time of Violent By Nature are now seasoned family men and women? With a school-leaving certificate, an apprenticeship, a degree, children, a dog (or, much better, a cat) and a lot of hair in their private parts? But now Atrophy are back and… no, they aren’t. This is no re-union, this is lead vocalist Brian Zimmerman with a new quartet at his side. So I am not sure whether this release makes sense under the banner of Atrophy. But I don’t care about things I cannot change. So welcome back, Brian Z. and let’s hear what you and your instrumentalists have to offer.

It is more or less clear right from the beginning that the line-up has changed, but the style has remained the same. I do not only mean the artwork which builds a bridge to the good old time of US American thrash metal. Atrophy have preserved their level of heaviness, their desire for fast parts and precisely defined riffs or, in view of the new faces, have successfully revitalized them. Even the degree of catchiness has not changed. This means that there are no radio-friendly parts, but a handful of songs find their way into the backyard of the listener’s brain quickly. 'High Anxiety' is the first highlight, a piece that creates a lot of pressure, power and pleasant pain – slowly but steadily I realize that my neck is no longer able to manage wild headbanging sessions. (To defy the laws of ageing does not belong to my core competencies.) The sound and the musical content of the songs do not appear moldy or stale in any way. Nevertheless, I ask myself whether I am listening to the past or the future of the genre. I am not quite sure, but it feels great to discover the full flavor of the pieces. For example, the sinister and fast-paced 'Seeds Of Sorrow' enters dizzying heights. Yet there are a couple of tracks which make a huge impact and 'The Apostle' marks a late highlight.

Two components dominate the album. On the one hand you have the sawing, cutting and hurting guitars, their sharp riffs, their lively solos and their flattening mid-tempo celebrations. On the other hand, Brian has not woken up from his deep slumber to be ignored. His naturally strong voice in combination with modern recording possibilities shapes an adequately brutal vocal performance – a better one than on the classic albums. The lyrics deal with the typical socially critical topics. In the past, I always liked Atrophy’s lyrics, because they appealed to personal responsibility and the strength to take one's fate into one's own hands. Now 'American Dream' houses lines about (naturally innocent) victims of a sick society. Perhaps this new perspective makes up for the musical continuity, who knows?

I must mention the fact that there are less exciting sections on this album and songs that need time to spread their full effect. Especially the opener is a negative surprise due to its lack of expression. One expects an explosion, but at first glance, they only lit a match. Fortunately the following tracks have definitely more fiery parts than lukewarm sequences. And let’s be honest, who can write a thrash album in 2024 without including a few standard parts? Maybe the unpredictable clowns of Piledriver, but they fell victim to a never ending sleep. Thus, I enjoy this extremely well produced work. Its powerful, full, vehement yet not overly modern sound provides the tailor-made frame for the material. Asylum is no milestone and no sensational comeback, but it knows what it wants to be, it sounds good and it has an authentic feel to it. From my point of view, Brian and his new friends can start with the songwriting for the fourth full-length.

Rating: 7.6 out of 10

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