Atreyu sure has come a long way out of the ever so popular underground metalcore scene over the past few years. Hailing from Orange County California, the 5 piece band released their most successful selling album The Curse
in 2004 and recently spent the summer of 2005 on the Main Stage at Warped Tour, as well as having a major spot on the Taste of Chaos Tour in the early months of 2006. Despite their increasingly mainstream success, Atreyu is far from winning over plenty of listeners for the sole reason that it seems almost impossible to be neutral about this band you either love them or hate them.
One side thinks, hey not bad this is some good catchy metalcore with tasteful leads, cool vocals and solid drumming.
The other extreme is sick of the over production (mainly in the last album), the barfing vocals, the clich" vocal patterns (screaming verse singing chorus) and finds nothing that separates this band from the next.
With A Death-Grip On Yesterday
on the way apparently containing "some of the most honest songs [Atreyu] has ever written" and a big second stage spot on Ozzfest, plenty of questions arise.
Is this album better than their previous release The Curse
Is this Atreyu"s best work to date?
Have the vocals improved?
And what exactly is this new Atreyu sound?
Judging by the album opener Creature
this new Atreyu sound is not anything new. Thankfully they have dropped the dramatic intro track which did not work for their last album and just gotten right into things. Alex belts out the first notes with his signature "scream." The opening sounds fairly standard some tight drumming and effective chords. What"s this?! Bass?! It is actually heard, not very loud at all and is drowned out a lot. When the chorus comes in, Brandon shows his singing improvement as his voice has developed and improved immensely from his past work. All in all Creature
becomes more and more like older Atreyu and the break down seems to last too long. The song drags on a bit especially for such a short song.
proves to be a huge step up, opening with one guitar playing a chord progression and Brandon's singing coming in after a drum build up. This shows just how much his singing has improved as he is the primary vocalist in the song. Some tasteful guitar is played leading up to the chorus, which happens to be one of my favorite one"s from this band.
Here's to lowering caskets of old friends
Choice they got so close and birth the new day
With the death of an old and
Here's to burying hatchets in those who
You never call your friends
and birth the new day with the death of an old and
One other improvement is noticed, lyrics (while this won't last long). Two noticeable improvements on this track along with great work from the rest of the band make Shameful
a great song. I"d highly recommend this be used as a single.
Our Sick Story
opens with an intro that sounds a tad like the later part of the intro to "Deanne The Arsonist" off of SNABK. While a cool harmonized guitar riff opens the song it just goes downhill from there. This song reminds me of just about any song found in the middle of The Curse
which is not a very good thing at all. Something about the lower vocal effect during the pre chorus just strikes a wrong note for me and than the chorus itself just seems to be standard for the band. The song is pulled out of its slump with a pretty cool guitar solo focusing more on emotion than shredding. Some pleasant guitar leads is about all this track has to offer.
seems to be another attempted ballad. The band really ought to stray away from songs like these as it turns out to be a very cheesy sounding attempt at being dramatic and drags on. One good thing about this song is Alex's scream, it sounds better than his usual shout. Maybe this track serves as just a possible build up for We Stand Up
. An energetic opening sets the pace for the rest of the song. Some very fitting riffs are played throughout the song and if you can get past Alex's vocals, this song is very enjoyable. A downside is during the chorus; Brandon"s singing is not up to par and almost brings the song's flow down, especially when he tries to go out of his range. The song slows down and provides a very tasteful guitar line. At this point in the record it becomes obvious that at plenty of times Atreyu's guitarists do a much better job of shaping the songs" sought after emotion than the vocals.
And here we are the first single if I have been informed correctly Ex's And Oh's
. Another catchy riff opens the song. Clean vocals are primarily used, big surprise. The song is extremely bland at many points and the lyrics are just complete cheese balls, especially at the beginning.
You took me home
I drank to much
Cause of you my liver turns to dust
Cold rust takes cold creeping cool pain
Do you understand what I need?
When u feel your soul drop to the floor
Like a hole, like an open bleeding sore
Then you'll have bled like I've bled
Then you'll have wept as I've wept
The chorus is sung and it's not bad, just far from outstanding. The verse's are a little boring but thankfully a great guitar solo saves this song from being a total infamy for the bands "new sound" as it captures a great amount of emotion. At the end of the day, this is not a very good choice for the first single. The song is just not very memorable past the great guitar work.
Your Private War
shows plenty of angst toward dishonesty and seems to be quite a personal track. The lyrics, once again are in need of a bit of work. The verse holds a very intense state while the chorus mellows out the mood. Not a whole lot new is offered here and the song gets a little boring before its end.
My Fork in the Road (your knife in my back)
opens with a fairly cool melodic riff. Some drums compliment it and the second guitar harmonizes towards the end, providing the most enjoyable intro instrumentally so far. The verses have quite a nice flow to them but once again Brandon gets a little too high at some parts of the chorus. Respect definitely goes to him for his improvement but I think he tries to hit some notes that he should wander away from. The pitch is there and it is more on key than not, but it just doesn't work for him. Once again a very tasteful guitar lead is played. The solo shows some of the best guitar work on the album. With more to praise about than to complain about, this proves to be the best song on the CD since Shameful.
The last track Untitled Finale
hmm, weird that there is a word after untitled, anyway this song seems to drag on forever with not a whole lot to offer. It sounds like very standard Atreyu minus the cool guitar line in the chorus. The poor arrangement of the guitar line lessens its enjoyment. This song fades out and ends the album on quite a weak note.
For the most part, Atreyu has always been a band that can't keep my attention for a very long period of time at all. I find it very hard to listen to more than three songs on a CD in one sitting after listening to the album for the first time through. This album might increase that to five or six if I am really in the mood. In answer to the questions at the beginning of the review, yes IMO this album is better than The Curse, although that really does not say a lot. Is this Atreyu's best work to date, that really depends on what the listener expects and/or wants out of this band and will have to listen to find out. For the vocals, the singing has improved a great amount while the screaming has not changed much. The good news in singing is used quite a bit more in this album than previous. As for this new Atreyu sound, improved singing, great lead work by the guitarists and a slightly different mood in some of the songs is all that's new.
+ improved singing
+ very tasteful guitar leads throughout the album
+ while the change in sound is not very noticeable, it cracks open the door for the band to take a bigger step in changing their sound
+ if an Atreyu mood strikes this album can be a decently good listen
- the songs can drag on which is unacceptable since most are under 4 minutes
- Alex's vocals are the same as the previous records and get old fast at times
- lyrics are in need of repair
- 9 songs, 33 minutes is very short yet the album still goes by slow
In the end, the improved singing and tasteful guitar leads are only about half of the record; and the other half of the record brings it down for the most part; however the drums stay solid throughout the album. While an improvement over the previous release, this record is hardly more than average as it seems to be very dependent on the mood of the listener. Some days this album can be a good listen while on other days it just seems to be a bore fest.
Perhaps one day Atreyu will find the sound they desire and put everything they have together creating an album they have the potential to, maybe not. Regardless, that day is not today and A Death-Grip On Yesterday
is not that album.
Final Rating 2.5 - 3/5
This is my first review and constructive feedback and comments will be greatly appreciated.