Sound — 8
Congregation of the Damned, like the band has declared, is very much a mix of all of Atreyu's previous sounds put into one album. It's a throwback to the old Atreyu of Suicide Notes and The Curse, but at the same time retains a lot of the elements that made Lead Sails Paper Anchor sound so different. Atreyu manages to blend their different sounds pretty well, and instead of a bunch of screaming songs and singing songs, each song has a little bit of everything. Like LSPA, the record is very grand - the songs have an epic feel to them. The guitar sounds are very powerful and over the top - Dan and Travis blast you with a constant stream of heavy riffing and dueling lead lines. However, the guitar tone and a lot of the riffs are darker in nature and reminiscent of The Curse.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics touch upon a few different subjects - nothing revolutionary. I would like to point out that they are sometimes a little silly, "Bleeding is a Luxury" being the obvious example here. Overall Atreyu continues their proven formula of dual vocal attack with Alex singing most of the verses and Brandon doing almost all the choruses. While we still hear a fair bit of Alex actually singing on this record, there is definitely more of the old school Atreyu sound. The opening track "Stop! Before it's too late and we've destroyed it all" is completely Brandon-free, which may come as a relief to some hardcore fans. While Brandon is a great singer, it would have been nice to have a little less of him on the record. Alex's vocals are much improved on this album versus LSPA, and I wish Atreyu had given him a little more freedom.
Overall Impression — 7
01. Stop! Before it's too late and we've destroyed it all!: this is a great song and should definitely please fans of The Curse. Starts with a grand guitar solo and goes into some solid Alex "cookie monster" screaming. 02. Bleeding is a Luxury: this song's verse is very good and features alternating vocals from Alex (screaming) and Brandon (singing). I cannot get over the chorus however, because the last phrase "Bleeding is a luxury" is a little too ridiculous for my taste (and frankly a little silly). Good song though. 03. Congregation of the Damned: the title track is one of the best on the album. Features Iron Maiden -esque dueling guitars for a VERY epic feel. The chorus is extremely catchy. 04. Coffin Nails: this song is a little "meh." The chorus sounds a little cliche with Brandon singing the words and Alex screaming an occasional incomprehensible word or two. 05. Black Days Begin: don't know what to make of this one. It's good, but a little unconventional, so it definitely gets a little getting used to. The song is much slower and groovier than Atreyu's normal stuff. 06. Gallows: the music on this one is VERY old-school Atreyu. The song opens with Brandon's double bass drum beat and a twin lead guitar. Epic intro. The vocals are a mix of old-school screaming with LSPA singing. Sounds like a mash up of "Demonology and Heartache" and "Falling Down." 07. Storm to Pass: the song opens with clean guitars, then some feedback, bass, and finally palm muted guitars and singing. Verse, pre-chorus, chorus etc.. rinse and repeat. But as generic as it is, it's actually a great song! The chorus is extremely catchy (Brandon does what he does best), and the intrumentals are just varied enough to keep it interesting. Great guitar solo on this one. 08. You Were the King, Now You're Unconscious: this song starts with a really cool electronic programmed intro. It's not actually done by the band, but really adds to the feel of the song. This is one of the heavier songs on the album. Lots of open string low C chugging. Alex's mix of low pitched singing and screaming contrasts Brandon's singing very starkly in an "Ex's and Oh's" fashion. This song is a winner. 09. Insatiable: this song has all the energy of "Blow" but is just a much better song. The lead lines are really fun, and the chorus is too catchy. Dan really holds back on the guitar solo, but its simplicity is part of what makes it so good. 10. So Wrong: Dan and Travis carry this song. The vocals are tired and cliche. Not my favorite. 11. Ravenous: fast tempo, chugging open strings, screaming verses, singing choruses, and awesome guitar work. Sounds like it would be a very good song, but somehow it's merely okay. I think the problem with this one is Brandon's chorus is too long relative to the other parts of the song... 12. Lonely: sounds a little bit like the direction that Avenged Sevenfold took with the back half of their latest album. Very poppy, cliche, and boring. The lyrics are silly, and the song on a whole is very predictable. Dan and Travis carry this one - without their awesome guitar work it would be a terrible song. 13. Wait for You: like LSPA, the band decided to close this album with a ballad. It's generic enough that at first I suspected Nickelback was behind this somehow. However, it's kind of catchy and it grows on you. Not a bad song, just a bad song coming from Atreyu. They've set a bar for themselves and I will accept no lower from a good band. All in all: the album is a good one, and combines many of the things we like about Atreyu into one record. However, Congregation of the Damned is nothing revolutionary.