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Atreyu - Topic

Congregation of the Damned Play

On their latest effort, Atreyu come with more of the same metalcore that listeners have come to expect from the band. All of the familiar elements are in place, with the alternating screaming/soaring vocals, thundering double bass drumming, and big, crunchy riffage. Following the trend from their last album, the band takes a (relatively) mellower and more melodic approach, though there are certainly flashes of the younger, more visceral and cathartic Atreyu here and there. There are some solid breakdowns to sink your teeth into, and the choruses are still huge and anthemic. If you're hungry for more Atreyu after Lead Sails Paper Anchor, then Congregation will be a no-brainer. ~ Gregory Heaney, Rovi

A Death-Grip on Yesterday Play

Rock bands that combine hardcore vocals together with heavy metal riffs have become commonplace in the early 21st century. One such band that follows this blueprint to a T is the southern California quintet Atreyu, and the proof is offered in truckloads on their 2006 release, A Death Grip on Yesterday. Instead of just having a single vocalist doing all the work, Atreyu employ the use of two singers -- Alex Varkatzas and Brandon Saller -- the latter of whom pulls a "Phil Collins" (he doubles as the group's drummer). With one handling the hardcore barking and the other handling the melodic emo singing, the vocal duo is showcased best on such tracks as "The Theft" and "Shameful." Although they put a unique spin on modern-day metal with the vocal duo thing, musically, Atreyu sound similar to the majority of the bands you can spot on any given episode of Fuse (riffs, riffs, riffs), as evidenced by such selections as the album-opening "Creature." Atreyu fit perfectly into the modern-day metal landscape, but there's a multitude of other bands sharing the metallic sound heard on A Death Grip on Yesterday. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi

Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses Play

Atreyu's debut album, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, is an invigorating foray into melodic metalcore in the vein of Darkest Hour, Poison the Well, and Eighteen Visions. Helmed by the tortured vision of frontman Alex Varkatzas, Atreyu looks to strike a name for themselves in a genre that has experienced its share of attention, yet while other bands look to simply bludgeon the listener to death with a permanent double-bass thrash, these five men wish for a little bit more originality to be added to the metalcore equation. Exquisitely crafted, the band fuses Swedish metal riffs in the vein of At the Gates with the tremendous rhythm section that never ceases to amaze with its precision and intricate nod to detail. Varkatzas' inflamed vocal screams make even the listener wince with pain, yet this vocal agony helps convey the sincerity and depth of his lyrics. Drummer Brandon Saller backs these growls of pain with melodies of passion, apparently contributing a beam of light into the darkness that consumes Varkatzas. Together, these two men make for some spectacular vocal moments, as their give and take on "Ain't Love Grand" is breathtaking. "Someone's Standing on My Chest" is a much more volatile blend of emotion and anger, as Varkatzas' ferocity is just barely kept in check by Saller's melody, and explodes into a tumultuous thunderstorm of sound on numerous occasions. Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses is an outstanding debut for a band that has its eyes set on the top of the heap, and with its extensive slaying of all heavy genres, Atreyu is quite possibly the next big thing in the metalcore scene. ~ Jason D. Taylor, Rovi

Lead Sails Paper Anchor Play

Atreyu's Lead Sails Paper Anchor is a decent album. The problem? It would be a much more consistent and stronger one if producer John Feldmann had settled on one sound -- slick or raw -- because it can't be both. (For the record, the rougher moments on the album do give Atreyu more vitality.) It isn't even a case of different songs having different production values, which would have made for a difficult, but ultimately forgivable, listen. Instead, these switches in sound occur multiple times, often in the same song. It's noticeable right from the beginning with opening number "Doomsday." During the verses, guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel crunch away while Alex Varkatzas' raspy vocals add texture and grit, but as soon as the chorus hits, the sound abruptly becomes slick and restrained. It's not on the part of the musicians, either -- it's very obviously a recording effect. It's a trend that is repeated throughout Lead Sails Paper Anchor, reining in Atreyu's hard and heavy sound to the album's detriment. By holding the band back, the album never achieves any sort of critical mass. Fortunately, Lead Sails Paper Anchor isn't a bland effort, and this helps to compensate somewhat, even if some of the songs seem a little out of place. ("Falling Down," which sounds a little too punk-pop for this collection, is a prime example.) "Lose It" is a particularly intriguing number, beginning with layered and distorted guitars before bursting into a brief flurry of heavy riffs. This, in turn, gives way to haunted verses, a rough, aggressive chorus, and an eerie bridge section featuring echoing harmonies and hand claps. "Blow" is another highlight, though for completely different reasons -- the big, juicy guitar riffs, a singalong (though hardly family-friendly) chorus, and a healthy dose of cowbell all add up for a rousing, arena-ready showstopper. Both are unencumbered by the restraining effects placed on most of the other pieces, giving a glimpse of what this album could have been. Fans may have to wait for a live album or a concert ticket to hear what Atreyu are really capable of doing with this material. ~ Katherine Fulton, Rovi

The Best of Atreyu Play

Atreyu's acerbic approach to metalcore -- merging Alex Varkatzas' caustic gutturals and Brandon Saller's melodic underpinnings with thrashing hardcore and continuous double-bass shots to the gut -- rocketed the guys straight to the top of the underground scene. The genre may have quickly become saturated, but Atreyu managed to remain a head above the crowd. So it made sense when ultimately, in 2006, the Orange County crew inked a deal with Hollywood Records, thus aligning forces for their imminent takeover of the moshing masses. As if right on cue, The Best of Atreyu has arrived via Victory Records to help easily orient those unfamiliar with the black clad quintet, while also assisting fans who have long since worn out their copies of the band's prior albums. This 18-song set draws pretty equally from the three full-lengths released up until 2006, arranging the songs chronologically starting with cuts from 2002's highly acclaimed Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses. As a result of the track order, discerning ears can enjoy the progression of the band's metallic sound, starting with the exhilarating romantic angst of "Lip Gloss and Black" all the way through the meditative and more tuneful air of "The Theft." And of course, ears will be steamrolled multiple times over in between with memorable tracks a plenty like "Living Each Day Like You're Already Dead," "Ain't Love Grand," "Right Side of the Bed," "The Crimson" and "Creature." Not everyone's favorite song is going to be represented here, but as purely an Atreyu starter kit, this best-of collection serves as an excellent overview. Plus, the album comes with a bonus DVD of six of their music videos to enjoy. Soak it all up now, and later you can claim you knew them when. [Also included in the package is a sampler of upcoming Victory Records artists, whose music videos are also on the DVD.] ~ Corey Apar, Rovi
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