Metalcore, pop-core, or lamecore, call them what you will; I find it easier to simply call them Atreyu
. In 2004 they put out The Curse
which for better or for worse completely changed the way many viewed them. Fans of their previous work were appalled with the massive increase of the sing and scream patterns, as they are used on every single song. The catchy choruses come hard and come often, allowing for more accessibility and in turn brought in plenty of fans from the MTV/fuse generation. Well for many this is not a bad thing, band included. The way the record is produced just screams out for radio play and media attention with its much too perfectly clear sound. The raw atmosphere found in their previous record has been replaced with dominating singing patterns and just down right overly produced instruments. The Curse
marks the beginning of Atreyu
's poppier traits which many have voiced bold opinions upon; once again for better or for worse. The album can be summed up in three words; cheesy, awful, or interesting. Unfortunately, if you put all of that into a pie chart, the interesting slice is drastically smaller than the other two.
Right from the start the cheese factor kicks in. Blood Children
is a terrible attempt at a dramatic intro. It also can be considered a rip off of Avenged Sevenfold's opening on Waking the Fallen. Regardless of that, the intro serves no purpose here other than filler and does not open the album in ideal fashion. The first single Right Side of the Bed
will be another appropriate candidate for this section. It opens out very strong, the riff sounds great and the pinch harmonics are very likeable as they are kept in moderation. However, the overproduction really shows here. That is far from the major problem in the song though. While the verse holds an intense state, the chorus just seems to come out of nowhere with its transition to singing. Alone the chorus is great, but its placement in the song does not seem to work so smooth. The solo suffers from the same problem, as it just pops out all of a sudden, not really fitting in. It is a shame that there are so many potentially good ideas here that just got jumbled together. The result is a sub-par song due to its poor transitions and structure. The Remembrance Ballad
is one to remember, but not for the right reasons. Pardon the bluntness, but this song is just down right laughable at sometimes. The vocals do a terrible job on both ends; the singing just is not strong enough to capture the intended emotion here. Screaming does not really belong on a song like this, as it does not fit the music very well most of the time. The guitar work is decent in some areas with some spurts of riffs, but is brought down immensely by the poor vocal performances. About two thirds of the way through a guitar solo kicks in. For a sophomore record and the first song of this style the band has attempted, some credit does need to be given. However, the solo alone is far from being enough to pull the song out of its atrocious slump. The song just ends up a failed attempt at a softer song, as the band is not quite capable of putting it all together. An Interlude
follows it and similar to the first track, this is completely unnecessary and shows laziness; it just has filler smothered over it. This is an album, not a marathon and no break is needed.
My Sanity on the Funeral Pyre
is one of the many songs on here which does not offer anything new. The music work here is overwhelmingly bland save from some cool drum fills. Even the outro solo is not typical Atreyu
fashion, as usually their guitarists do a great job. Here the solo is just kind of there, it fits in fine but it is just tasteless most of the time. Vocals are completely horrid here and the sung choruses are more than old at this point. They are completely predictable much like the breakdown in its usual spot. The following track Nevada's Grace
can easily be one of the most uninspired songs found here. A little drum fill opens the song and clean vocals come in right away. They are just very weak and once again bland. When Alex screams they just sound forced and when layered atop of singing just do not work at all. The music work is all very boring and the little tempo changes sound very rushed. Around 2 minutes in there is a clean bridge with some echoed vocals; this just turns out disastrous, as does Alex's screaming at the end of it. It tries for an intense build up ending but just turns out to be tiresome and poorly written. Five Vicodin Chased with a Shot of Clarity
continues the trend of a poor ending to the record. The music work once again is similar to what has been heard and has no redeeming factors to it. The drop C rhythm section and minimal riffing mark a weak effort. As bad as the music is, the lyrics and vocals are worse.
"The glass isn't half empty this time
I smashed it to the ground a long long time ago
It shattered when it fell and I broke to pieces
Each shard's another reason, another way to give up"
Alex and Brandon trade off on vocal duty during this part and it ends up as terrible as the lyrics. The only enjoyable part of the song is the tiny instrumental break with some nifty guitar lines. A mere 20 second part does not come close to saving this song. The chants at the end are just painful over the diminished guitars. Apparently the band has not heard of ending an album on a strong note, as the last three tracks are easily some of the worst on the record due to immense repetition and predictable sound and structure.
Now do not get the wrong impression, as there are actually some good well put together songs on the record. The first real song Bleeding Mascara
is a good example of this. This song would have been ideal instead of the intro, as its intro is beautiful. Alex lets go a darn fitting over a crazy lead with some sweeping. Double bass and some chords make up a solid rhythm section to hold the intro together. The verse is solid as its tempo stays high and the drums come through with strong fills. During the chorus singing comes out and works fairly effectively despite the terrible lyrics.
"Look how pretty she is when she falls down
Now there is no beauty in bleeding mascara
Lip are quivering like a withering rose"
While the lyrics are bad, the chorus fits in the song and is one of the few that doesn't seem just tossed into the mix for more accessibility. There is another solo later on which works out great. Some more sweeping comes out and its melodic feel adds a cool flavor to the song. Things come to a close after another chorus, capping off a highlight of the record. You Eclipsed by Me
opens with a nice guitar riff which persists into the verse. This is a good thing, as Alex's screaming if nothing else works well with the music work here. The drums do a notable job here, as the double bass is used in perfect amounts throughout the song. There is a breakdown towards the end, in which the drums do a fantastic job. The variation in patterns keep repetition from setting in as another enjoyable song is heard. The next track and second single The Crimson
has an awesome atmosphere to it. A pleasant clean guitar intro opens it and continues into the verse. Alex’s screaming should not work with it, but it somehow does creating a unique feel. Once more the chorus is sung, but works nicely with the song. At about 2:30 there is a clean bridge which drags on a little bit. A build up follows, marking a well put together section leading into the final chorus. While repetition does begin to set in, the song contains plenty of enjoyable moments. One more highlight is Demonology and Heartache
, as its guitar work and above average vocals make this song listenable. The intro does a nice job of setting the mood for the song and the harmonization towards the end of it works great. During the chorus, the clean vocals have a bit of a different sound than the rest of the album. The upbeat feel to the first half of the song could be the reason for this. At around two minutes, things slow down and some nice melodic guitar work kicks in. The screams over it become a bit tiresome after awhile but the quick guitar harmonization is a pleasant surprise as it is a fantastic transition for the final chorus. All in all, things sound very well put together here and the track ends up praiseworthy. It is a shame the same cannot be said for the majority of the album.
When you have a 13 track album and only four of the songs turn out to be highlights, the album as a whole suffers greatly. It seems as though Atreyu
hit of rough patch in their transition toward the poppy traits. Their sophomore album attempts to put catchy sung choruses, brutal breakdowns, and guttural screams all together and similar to many other acts just does not succeed. What comes out the majority of the time is uninspired tunes lacking redeeming factors. Screams are forced much like many transitions to singing and musically the band seems to struggle in putting together distinctive tracks. Singing is just not strong enough to carry its end up and the lyrics sung are terribly written. The general overproduction becomes a problem in plenty of cases, as the band has had its raw edge replaced with lighter sections. Other times it seems that certain sections were rushed and jumbled together, as plenty of songs lose flow and have sloppy tempo changes. From start to finish, the album becomes a very tiresome listen. In moderation on the right day certain songs can be a decent listen. But a 13 track record with four highlights, two blatant fillers, and seven poorly written, uninspired songs is just not going to cut it; and as a whole, The Curse
ends up a poor effort.
Final Rating: 2/5