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It is their debut full-length album as all previous releases are EPs. The LP is accompanied by liner notes that explain the stories behind many of the songs. The album reached number 197 in the Billboard Hot 200 chart. The album cover is inspired by the Warner Bros. Cartoons art of animator Chuck Jones.

The most popular song on the album and possibly by Big Black, "Kerosene", has a shaky guitar line that gives it an odd appeal and a slower rhythm than most Big Black songs. It discusses being bored and then as a result wanting to be set on fire. Violent lyrics such as these occur throughout Big Black's entire discography.

In the year after Atomizer's release, Big Black recorded their 4-song Headache EP and released it with a sticker that bore the words, "Warning! Not as good as Atomizer, so don't get your hopes up, cheese." The same sticker also appeared on Sonic Youth's EP Master=Dik.

Atomizer was compiled on Compact Disc, along with the Headache EP and "Heartbeat" single, as The Rich Man's Eight Track Tape, which omitted the instrumental "Strange Things", as well as the artwork and liner notes from the original records. Instead, Steve Albini expressed his general dislike for the CD format in the CD's liner notes, saying, "This compact disc, compiled to exploit those of you gullible enough to own the bastardly first generation digital music system, contains all-analog masters. Compact discs are quite durable, this being their only advantage over real music media. You should take every opportunity to scratch them, fingerprint them, and eat egg and bacon sandwiches off them. Don't worry about their longevity, as Philips will pronounce them obsolete when the next phase of the market-squeezing technology bonanza begins.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Steve Albini - guitar, vocals, drum machine programming
Santiago Durango - guitar
Dave Riley - bass guitar
Iain Burgess - recording engineer
Big Black always credited Roland along with the band's members, though Roland is a brand of drum machine and not an actual person.

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