In the early 00’s Atreyu came out of the SoCal metalcore underground with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, Bleeding Through and Eighteen Visions, and while they may not have reached the heights of some of the bands in the scene, they have a decent near decade long run that culminated in them supporting Bullet For My Valentine at Wembley Arena. Then it all went quiet.
Atreyu went on hiatus, the members of the band started families or had low-key side projects, but for the most part it seemed Atreyu was done. That all changed last year when they announced they were back and that new music was on the way.
After a year of waiting and some singles trickling out, the fruits of the bands labours is finally upon us in the form of the album ”Long Live” I must admit that when I first heard Atreyu was coming back I did two things, firstly I went back and listened to some of the bands older albums to see if they still held up, which for the most part they do, and secondly I tried to imagine what an Atreyu album would sound like in 2015. Towards the end of the latter part of their initial run the band honed their sound and smoothed out some of the edges, putting more of a classic rock spin on it, leading some short-sighted magazines to proclaim that “stadium metalcore” was going to be a thing…
So I had to wonder which version of Atreyu would be coming back out of the wildnerness. It turns out that if nothing else 5 years away has made the band sound a lot angrier than they did before, like a beast that has been caged and has been biding its time. This is an Atreyu that has more in common with the band that released ”Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses” than the one that released ”Congregation of the Damned”.
There is a power and a hunger here, a revitalisation that is very telling. Clearly the time off did wonders for the band, especially Alex Varkatzas, whose flirtation with a heavier style in I Am War, has seen him up his vocals game considerably, delivering some of the most throat exploding roars of his career. The rest of the band have stepped up to the plate as well, and deliver all the trademarks you would expect from them as well as pushing their sound further.
The album’s title track is a fast paced number that explodes in a hail of rapid fire drum work, gang vocals and a canyon sized melodic chorus. It’s a rousing reintroduction that works to get things off on the right foot.
‘Cut Off the Head’ has a slow sinister intro before breaking into a riff bouncier than a jelly on a space hopper, proving that Atreyu have managed to lose none of their groove over time, it’s also provides one of the most irresistible choruses on this album, and easily the catchiest chorus you will here about having a demon living inside you…
‘Do You Know Who You Are’ borrows its intro from ‘We Will Rock You’ and bring back the old school, dirty rock vibe that the band has previously explored and showcases how huge Atreyu can sound even when they scale things back. ‘Heartbeats and Flatlines’ sounds as though it was directly lifted straight from their 2004 classic ”The Curse”
Album closer ‘Stronger Than Me’ ends things as furiously as they began and brings the near hour-long juggernaut that is ”Long Live” to an end, and a strong end at that. Many bands return from hiatus and more often than not they are bereft of ideas or cannot deliver on the promise they once had, I am happy to say that Atreyu are an exception to that rule, a band that can not only still cut it live, but that has also delivered one of the most rounded heavy albums of the year by taking everything they have done as a band up to this point and imbuing it with a renewed focus and energy. It serves a both a timely reminder of why they were so loved in the first place, but also what they can bring now to liven up a dying scene.
Atreyu are back, long live Atreyu !!!