Ok, here’s my old man statement for the day: kids these days will never know what it’s like to discover new music from MTV. Since the M now apparently stands for millennial and not music, most people, myself included, discover new music through social media, Spotify, or YouTube. However, back when MTV still played music videos, I would quite often have bands I hadn’t heard of presented to me through shows like Headbanger’s Ball. One such band was Atreyu. The video for ‘Lip Gloss and Black’ was my introduction to their flavor of metalcore, and made sure I purchased The Curse and every record after that. I’ve heard the aural evolution of Atreyu. So, when I was sent a copy of their new album, In Our Wake, I assumed I’d know what to expect. I was mistaken.
Now, obviously, surprises can go either way, so let’s talk about it before we decide. Atreyu’s last record, Long Live, was one of the heavier records the band had released in while, and I liked it better than its predecessor, Congregation of the Damned. I guess I shouldn’t have expected them to continue that trend, as In Our Wake is definitely the most commercially accessible album they’ve ever released. I can’t even say that I think drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller’s other band, Hell Or Highwater, had any influence on the song writing. Although, after reading that the band wrote most of the songs while together in the studio, I have a feeling they were listening to a lot of Top 40 radio during the process.
The first single and title track ‘In Our Wake’ starts innocently enough, but you already can tell something is different, between the odd keyboard squeals and minor use of Alex Varkatzas’ familiar scream. Follow up single ‘The Time Is Now’ finds Atreyu channeling their inner Fall Out Boy with again mostly clean vocals and a repetitive chant chorus. If I was a betting man, I’d guess that ‘Blind Deaf & Dumb,’ their homage to Saliva, would be the next single. It has all the boxes checked; gang vocals, rapped verses, and clean vocal chorus. It’ll be that or the Imagine Dragonsish ‘Terrified,’ with its strings and keyboards, or there’s also the Asking Alexandria flavored ‘Safety Pin.’ The icing on the proverbial cake has to be closer ‘Super Hero’ (feat. M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold & Aaron Gillespie of Underoath). This is direct quote from the promo presser, “It conjures visions of “Atreyu meets Queen meets Disneyland meets E.L.O.” with its cinematic orchestration, horns, flutes, and grandiose production.” Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
Look, maybe this is just me using my old man voice again, but of all the bands I would expect to put out a record like In Our Wake, the last one would be Atreyu. Shinedown, possibly, Papa Roach, definitely, but not Atreyu. For some fans, who were apparently clamoring at them to play/put something out more like Lead Sails Paper Anchor, will probably really like this record. For others like me, they might be wondering if Long Live was the old Atreyu’s swan song. I suppose that all depends on how In Our Wake is received by all of us. I know I’ll be more cautious next time.