Atreyu

Long Live

Written by: PP on 08/12/2015 22:57:59

Atreyu rings memories both good and bad in the minds of many older metalcore fans who started following the scene in the early 2000s when it broke into the mainstream. Back then, Atreyu released "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses" and "The Curse" in 2002 and 2004, respectively, both of which were solid metalcore albums that benefited from being ahead of the curve in the sense that only two or three years later, metalcore basically imploded from lack of creativity given the massive amount of clone bands that came around following the success of the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine, Darkest Hour, et cetera. Granted, those albums were never classics per se, and they certainly didn't age well (try listening to them today, eh?), but they were good enough. As for the bad memories, well, everything came afterward was basically utter shite. "A Death-Grip On Yesterday" was overproduced and lacked the imagination of its predecessors. "Lead Sails Paper Anchor" was miserably bad as the band embraced the pop realm and brought in hard rock influence. At least "Congregation Of The Damned" revitalized the band somewhat given its arena metal style, but let's be honest here, it was too little, too late, and the band's fanbase continuously kept reverting to the first two albums when asked about the band's best work.

As a result, the band went on a hiatus in 2011 but reformed in mid-2014 with the intention of writing more music under the Atreyu banner. Enter "Long Live", their sixth full-length and first one in six years, a conscious effort at retrieving the razor-sharp fury that fueled their debut and sophomore album, and merging it together with some arena metal influences in the vein of Avenged Sevenfold's newer material. The title track opens the record with vocalist Alex Varkatzas returning back to his unique throwing up style screaming that always sounded like a struggle compared to many other vocalists in metalcore. "Live To Labor" sounds like a Slipknot track on steroids during its verse, with a big, anthemic post-hardcore chorus complementing the blinding metal solo that races in high tempo a little later in the song. Both of these are examples of Atreyu drawing from their roots and the result may fool some fans given how catchy both tracks are. Still, escaping their hard rock past is more difficult than one might imagine. "Do You Know Who You Are", for instance, is a spacious pop track with dramatic choruses that might be radio-friendly but should result into eyes rolling for most older metalcore fans. "I Would Kill_Lie_Die (For You)" is exactly as cliché as it sounds, featuring an especially cringe-worthy pop chorus.

That being said, for the majority of the album, Alex Varkatzas is throatily screaming his vocal cords into the hospital, in that sense bringing forth a sense of nostalgia that only older Atreyu fans will recognize. "Cut Off The Head", for example, might have a clean vocal chorus, but the majority of the song is aggressively delivered and could've been on the b-sides to "The Curse". But the hard rock influence is never fully ditched, as "Heartbeats And Flatlines" proves with its infectious hard rock melodies. Similarly, "A Bitter Broken Memory" showcases another chorus that echoes Papa Roach and/or Five Finger Death Punch vibes. "Brass Balls" brings classic rock influence even as Alex's piercing vocals brutalize the soundscape, and "Moments Before Dawn" basically sounds like Five Finger Death Punch and A7X had a baby that screamed like Atreyu.

So essentially, "Long Live" is the long-awaited bridge album between "The Curse" and "A Death-Grip On Yesterday" that never happened. In other words, it sounds like it should've been released ten years ago, which in today's metalcore terms equates to an awfully dated and tired sound. Old Atreyu fans will find a nostalgia trip to be had here, and fans of arena metal will lap this generic piece of metalcore up, the rest of us will be moving on.

6

Download: Heartbeats And Flatlines, A Bitter Broken Memory, Live To Labour
For the fans of: Avenged Sevenfold, Eighteen Visions, Bullet For My Valentine, Aiden, Five Finger Death Punch
Listen: Facebook

Release date 18.09.2015
Spinefarm Records

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