Atrophy, "Socialized Hate [reissue]"
No discussion of Tucson, Arizona's Atrophy can be undertaken without mentioning my old roommate in the Hell House, Krazy Ken. Several years before he rented out the back bedroom in my house, Ken had given me a mix tape featuring a ton of thrash metal. I knew about half the bands, but some were unknowns to me. And since Ken hadn't labeled anything, I had to figure them out on my own.
"Beer Bong" was one of the first songs I was able to place. I remember going into Vinyl Fever's old location in Tallahassee and flipping through the cassettes, scanning the song titles, looking for "Beer Bong". Luckily for me, the band's name started with "A", so it wasn't long before I was holding "Socialized Hate" in my hand. The cover had a freaky looking evil clown holding a nuclear missile in either hand, and on the back, some scruffy guys in jeans and t-shirts. But it was on Roadrunner, one of my favorite labels back in the late 80's, and I already knew I liked the "Beer Bong" song, so I snapped it up. Listening to "Socialized Hate" now sure brings back some heavy memories, as that time in my life was characterized by barely restrained chaos and upheaval... but on to the music.
Atrophy managed to be a solid second-tier band during their short existence. What they lacked in polish they made up for with intensity, a total over the top attitude that really made them shine. The original release didn't have great production, but it wasn't the worst either... then again, I'm used to hearing this on tape through crappy low-fi equipment. Metal Mind did a nice job with the 24-bit digital remastering so the production on these re-releases sounds way better than my old stretched out tape, and even better than my CD copy from that time. You can hear the bass and drums clearly and the guitar solos have plenty of separation. When I cranked this up in my car stereo, as soon as the opening salvo's of "Chemical Dependency" started dropping I was impressed all over again. It turns out "Beer Bong" was the silly song on the album, as Chris Lykins and Brian Zimmerman churned out intelligent and thought provoking lyrics (check out the title track). Musically, Atrophy wasn't breaking new ground but they were tight and damn good at lightening fast thrashing, and even backing off the pedal occasionally for some added dynamics. Zimmerman's vocals are typical for thrash of the late '80's, clear and understandable but with good measure of snarl and sneer.
Arizona would spawn at least three great bands from that era: Atrophy, Sacred Reich, and Flotsam & Jetsam. The Flots are still around, Sacred Reich broke up in 2000 (but are reformed for some shows this summer!!!) and Atrophy didn't last past their second release in 1990. They burned brightly during their time as tigers in the spotlight, and were a constant touchstone for me and Ken as the years went by. If you haven't had the pleasure yet, and have any interest at all in what we cut our teeth on back in the day, I highly recommend Atrophy two albums. "Socialized Hate" has perhaps a bit more bite to it than "Violent By Nature" (look for my review of that one very soon!) but both albums are well worth the time and effort. These Metal Mind re-issues are limited edition digi-paks, so get yours now and relive the days when thrash metal monsters ruled the land!