Like most of us here at Sentinel Daily, I’m a sucker for straightforward, no-frills thrash metal. I love the old school! But, as we get further and further from thrash’s mid-eighties ground zero, it’s tempting to mythologise the whole scene, what it meant and who was great – especially when it came to the minor players.

So, whilst it’s great to celebrate that Arizona’s Atrophy are back with their first album in over thirty years, the codecil attached to that – why are we celebrating? they didn’t amount to a whole hill o’beans back in the day – is an important one, and one that bears remembering when considering the band’s new album Asylum.

Add to that the fact that only vocalist Brian Zimmerman remains from the band’s ‘glory’ days and you have to ask the question ‘is this even Atrophy at all?’.

Well, that’s what it says on the label, and apparently former guitarist Chris Lykins (now a leading ear, nose and throat doctor -Ed) wrote most of the music and lyrics, so who am I to question? On listening to Asylum – an all guns blazing, slick old school thrash record – you have to had it to Zimmerman and his band of merry men; they carry on the flame very well indeed.

High Anxiety, Seeds of Sorrow and Five Minutes ‘Til Suicide all proudly sit as equals to anything the band came up with all those years ago. Seeds of Sorrow, in particular, reels in the years thanks to A-grade performances from all concerned. Nathan Montalvo and Mark Coglan are a persuasive guitar team; Montalvo’s leads are crisp and the pair’s harmonies are on point throughout, whilst bassist John Gibbs and former Master drummer Jonas Shütz know just what it takes to form a credible thrash rhythm section. Shütz in particular gives his all throughout to maintain the classic thrash sound.

And what of Zimmerman? He’s pitching a bit lower, now, of course, but this actually only adds to the heaviness of his vocals, and he gives a good account throughout.

If truth be told, I wan’t holding out a great deal of hope for this record, but I’m happy to say I was wrong – Atrophy is back, and I sincerely hope it’s not another thirty years until they bring out another album!

Asylum releases on March 15th.