Review : Atreyu - Congregation of the Damned
PopmattersTrue to its title, Congregation of the Damned is a much darker album than anything else that Atreyu has has released to date. The album shows Atreyu, 11 years after forming, for lack of a better word, “maturing.” Mind you, “mature” is the type of word that may send stalwart metal fans to make like Iron Maiden and run for the hills, a word usually reserved for referring to a band adopting a trendier, more radio-friendly/neutered sound in an attempt to be taken more seriously (à la Green Day).
While there are, admittedly, a few moments on the album where Atreyu treads dangerously into this sort of territory (particularly on the Nickleback-ish, Saliva-y ballad “Wait For You”), most of the songs showcase Atreyu at their darkest and heaviest. Anger, frustration, and hopelessness are the main thematic focal points of the album. Taken as an otherwise rather cohesive whole, Congregation of the Damned feels bigger and more polished than anything the band has attempted before. Nevertheless, the band’s more dyed-in-the-wool metalcore fans may (unfairly) turn their noses up at this more melodic direction due to the band incorporating a number of metal styles and not solely sticking to the metalcore manual....full text
BloodygoodhorrorIn the past, I have been a serious critic of Atreyu. I found their music to be uninspired and derivative. However, with a new album on the way, it was upon me to shelve my previous prejudices and see what the band had to offer.
I must admit, "Congregation of the Damned" exceeded what I thought it would be. The songs are denser, heavier, and carry a better weight than the band's previous efforts. Atreyu has done some growing up since we last saw them, and it's to the benefit of the album and the audience. The general timbre of the music has become more mature, and the attitudes of the musicians are more developed.
While the album reaches with great effort, it fails to really grasp. For all the heaviness and embellishment of the improved guitar work, the band hasn't really managed to channel that effort into anything more ground-breaking than they had presented in previous albums. The effort and musicianship is improved, but it is largely window dressing draped over the same music as before....full text
SputnikmusicAtreyu's popularity has always been more a matter of timing than due to things like skill and quality. Born from the same pool of pissed off suburban teenagers that spawned Bleeding Through, Avenged Sevenfold, and Eighteen Visions, the Orange County quintet's seemingly unwarranted rise to popularity was driven by the accessibility of their watered down take on Metalcore. For many kids, the albums Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses and The Curse were stepping stones into heavy music, only to be almost entirely discarded except for the occasional, nostalgic spin of “Lip Gloss and Black” in favor of thousands of better bands. To expand on the mainstream acceptance that had come via their place as a gateway act, Atreyu's fourth album, 2007's Lead Sails Paper Anchor, saw the band try their hand at full on radio-centric Arena Rock (which, for the most part, worked). Despite the loss of some old fans still clinging to their memories of 2002, Lead Sails Paper Anchor changed Atreyu from a band that was embraced by enough fourteen year-olds dressed in black to have a high charting release to a band seeing mainstream success.
It's clear that Congregation of the Damned, Atreyu's fifth full-length release, is an attempt to please both new and old fans, and in the process be the album that sums up exactly what Atreyu are all about. To an extent, it does just that. For those that find some level of enjoyment from Atreyu, there is bound to be something on Congregation of the Damned that will tickle your fancy. And as Atreyu's attempt to define their career in a nutshell, Congregation of the Damned displays just about about everything that they are about, be it mediocre Metalcore or mediocre cock rock.
The heavier numbers on the album reinforce Atreyu's penchant for unoriginal ideas. The opener, "Stop! Before It's Too Late and We've Destroyed It All", is a blatant rip off of In Flames (something Atreyu have done in the past: see “Right Side of the Bed” versus “The Hive”) from the plodding chords in the verse to the hypermelodic chorus and Alex's vocals that are reminiscent of Anders Friden at his worst. With “Bleeding is a Luxury”, Atreyu take their Metalcore side and add an unnecessary dose of cheese to it, adding banal keyboard harmonies to an already tiring mix of chug and alternate picking. As if that wasn't enough, the track is also home to one of the numerous open string breakdowns that litter Congregation of the Damned in a half-assed attempt to show that Atreyu haven't lost their balls--this begs the question, how do you lose what you never had in the first place?...full text
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