Congregation Of The Damned Review

artist: Atreyu date: 11/04/2009 category: compact discs
Atreyu: Congregation Of The Damned
Released: Oct 27, 2009
Genre: Metalcore, Alternative Metal
Label: Hollywood, Roadrunner Records
Number Of Tracks: 13
Atreyu's guitar team of Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel sustain the momentum on the bands fifth studio album "Congregation Of The Damned".
 Sound: 8.1
 Lyrics: 7.6
 Overall Impression: 8.4
 Overall rating:
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reviews (7) 73 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
Congregation Of The Damned Featured review by: UG Team, on november 04, 2009
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: Atreyu is a band that undoubtedly holds reverence for the guitar teams of metal's classic era (i.e., Iron Maiden or Judas Priest), which is emphasized by the fact that so many of their latest songs revolve so heavily around a similar format. Guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel are an amazingly talented duo that deliver juicy riff after juicy riff on Atreyu's latest record Congregation of the Damned, and they do end up keeping the momentum alive throughout the 13-track CD. One could argue that the band too often relies on big guitar parts, however, and the core songwriting suffers in the process. While there are some big choruses and catchy melodies on Congregation of the Damned, it does usually end up being the Dan-and-Travis Show.

And those two put on quite a show, indeed. From the neo-classical guitar intro of Stop! Before It's Too Late and We've Destroyed It All to the Maiden-like harmonization of the title track, there's little rest for those two. Besides being technically proficient, there does seem to be an effort to dabble in different styles and genres as far as the guitars go. An industrial vibe drives the cinematic You Were The King, Now You're Unconscious, a more emotional, power ballad feeling is heard throughout Storm To Pass, and alternative, Cure-like effects are applied to the first few moments of the intro on Coffin Nails.

If you eliminate the obvious draw that is the guitar section, there are a few songs that could stand on their own. Congregation of the Damned features a powerful, big chorus that is the centerpiece for the entire song, while Black Days Begin contains several elements (from the grooving bass line to layered vocals to a Megadeth-like descending riff) that holds your attention. Atreyu has no shortage for creativity with their musical sections, and that is the selling point for Congregation of the Damned.

The main issue with the album is that drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller is a much better singer than frontman Alex Varkatzas. When Varkatzas decides not to scream and tries out a ballad, the vocals just fall flat. The closing number Wait For You has the potential to be moving and effective with a stripped-down, piano-driven setup, but Varkatzas doesn't have the singing chops to pull it off. There will always be proponents for the screaming aspect of Atreyu, but Saller's clean-yet-strong singing technique is powerful enough to not necessitate intermittent cries from Varkatzas. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrical content doesn't quite match the grandiose nature of the instrumentation on the new album. There are some truly intricate musical sections, and it seems like only the bare basics are provided to fill in the lyrical portion. In the title track you hear such lines as, I get carried away; Lost in a moment; Torn into pieces; Of violent display; I tear it away. The song delivers a theme that has been recycled time and time again, which seems to be the case for a good deal of Congregation of the Damned. They're not terrible lyrics, but they do feel hollow. // 6

Overall Impression: If you're a guitarist, there's a good chance that you'll be left at least a little impressed by Congregation of the Damned. Harmonized riffs and solos are scattered throughout the entire record, with Travis Miguel and Dan Jacobs not hesitating to add in guitar lines underneath the vocals, making for a nice touch. Atreyu is obviously a big proponent of the guitar solo as well, and you'll find some beautifully executed ones (Black Days Begin, Storm To Pass). While the band does give vocalist/drummer Saller plenty of time in the spotlight, they might want to consider turning all singing duties over to him in the future. And if there is such a thing as too much guitar, Atreyu is walking a fine line and might need to rein it in slightly for the good of their songs. // 8

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overall: 7.3
Congregation Of The Damned Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 11, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 8

Lyrics: 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. // 7

Overall Impression: 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. // 7

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overall: 8.7
Congregation Of The Damned Reviewed by: Plarx, on november 13, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well, Atreyu are one of those bands that have hanged a fair bit with their vocals and music. When I first listened to record, I thought of how Megadeth wanted to write a real, thrash album, similar to Rust In Peace. I truly think Atreyu have done just that, and gone back to their roots; perhaps another "Death-Grip On Yesterday" or "The Curse"? The vibe I get from this record is "We're F**ked! but we can still rock!" It's something I could see myself foolishly performing in the mirror, it's emotional, exciting, and sometimes painful (in a good way), and that's what music is meant to do; bring out feelings in people. Solos are tight, drum parts make your head bang, I even saw my Dad tapping his foot to "Ravenous"! // 9

Lyrics: Alex Varkatzas dominates his parts on vocals, and Brandon Saller always seems to clean things up beautifully, a wonderful balance. Kicking the record off with "Stop: Before It's To Late And We've Destroyed It All", confirms that Atreyu are still in good form. Dan Jacobs's lead melodies are simply gorgeous here, setting a really dark and evil mood for the rest of the record. The title track, "Congregation of the Damned" is quite simple really, telling a story about just doing what everybody else does, which leads to the human race's damnation, proving that the guys over in Atreyu know what their talking about. Before discussing "Storm to Pass", I'd like to explain that for me, singles in this genre of music are made to be mainstream, and it makes sense. Artists want to appeal to the general public, it good for record sales. Now, "Storm to Pass" is just that, it would appeal to everybody, but unlike "Ex's and Oh's" from their album "A Death-Grip On Yesterday", it fits into the album easily and doesn't seem out of place. The only thing I could possibly pick on is that sometimes that lyrics sometimes follow the lead guitar parts a bit too closely, not that it's a bad thing, but it feels 'cheesy' at times, especially on "You Were The King, And Know Your Unconscious" // 8

Overall Impression: To me, "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses"'s vocals were too focused on the screaming. I didn't really like it, but slowly, Atreyu found a balance between the singing and screaming, and brought in a sense of teamwork with Brandon and Alex making the record a lot tighter. This album is definitely has aspects from all their previous works, and is a pleasure not to hear a record with songs that don't sound the same. I'll definitely be taking time to listen to this a lot over the next few months and appreciate it :) If all my CD's were stolen and I could only get 25 back, this would be one of the 25. // 9

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overall: 8.7
Congregation Of The Damned Reviewed by: Kronus, on october 11, 2010
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Like on old albums, they tried again more "Screaming" in these songs. It sounds like a mixxed version of "Lead Sails Paper Anchor" and "A Death-Grip On Yesterday" when you here Alex Varkatzas (Vocals) screaming and Brandon Saller (Drums) singing the clean parts, often the chorus. They gave this album a new part of metalcore, they actually never used. With "Big" Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel playing both the lead guitar, the guitars lose never their dominance in the songs. By the way, they put a background guitar into these songs, which is playing the rythm guitar, when both guitarist play the solos. // 7

Lyrics: When you hear Alex Varkatzas singing most of the time ther verse, Brandon Saller singing the chorus and Marc McKnight growling in the background, you listen to three good skilled singers. Brandon Saller's rythm of Drums is played as good as he wouldn't sing. It's impressive how he learned singing and playing at the same time. But, Alex Varkatzas, the "official" singer of Atreyu not only screams or growls. In songs like "Wait For You" or "Lonely" you can hear him singing with a clean voice. There has always been taken a look for the lyrics, especially at the song "Wair For You". This ballad includes every duty it has to. Not only the music is great, the lyrics describe love and love's pain. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall, I would say, it is a great album, the guitars are a perfect mix of Hardrock, Metal, and Metalcore. It unites every album of themselfes. My most impressive songs are "Storm To Pass", "Insatiable" and "We Are The living Dead" (Bonus Track). I don't know why this band isn't as popular as "Rihanna". It actually has to! By the way, it is worth buying the CD with the Bonus Track, in Atreyu's Bonus Tracks they always try to play a different style of Metal or the cover a famous song of another band. So just buy it, listen to it, and you'll make your oget opinion! // 10

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overall: 8.7
Congregation Of The Damned Reviewed by: Battman1993, on september 15, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well, let's face it: Atreyu's last album Lead Sails Paper Anchor pissed off a LOT of fans. LSPA's straight-foward hard rock sound made a lot of people jump off the Atreyu bandwagon. However, I liked it quite a bit, especially since I could finally understand the damn lyrics. BUT, I did wish for a little more METAL in LSPA. The version of that CD I got had three bonus songs: a new song called The Squeeze, which is the best song on the album (it's what Atreyu should sound like), and two covers: Faith No More's classic Epic (which Atreyu butchers, I'm sorry but it's a steaming pile of dogshit on an otherwise pretty damn good rock album), and the Descendant's Clean Sheets. I place most of the blame on LSPA not being as good as it could be on John Feldmann, the producer. If you haven't heard of him, he's essentially the preminent pop-punk/post-hardcore producer around. As Atreyu vocalist Alex Varkatzas has put it, "we let John put his hands a little too deep into LSPA." But enough about that album. I'm here to review the follow-up, Congregation of the Damned. I did not even know Atreyu was recording this until I read an interview in Guitar World with Dan & Travis (the guitarists) where they were talking about the sound. When they said it was a combination of all their previous records, I nearly jumped with joy. And whoa buddy, Congregation of the Damned DOES NOT DISSAPPOINT! From the first song, Stop! Before We've Destroyed It All, it is clear what Dan & Travis meant. COTD is a combination of LSPA and their other records. Dan & Travis smoke as usual on guitar, whether it's playing straight-up metalcore riffs or hard rock riffs. There are quite a few songs on this album that Alex sings, but he also balances that against some of the heaviest screaming he has done. There is not a song on this album I could refer to as bum. This album is full of guitar solos, and Brandon and Mike kill it on the drums & bass as usual. There's quite a few standouts on COTD. Gallows rocks with an almost thrashy vibe at times, and the chorus will be sure to be a sing-along at every Atreyu concert ever. On Storm To Pass, the first single, Atreyu balances some sick guitar riffery and solos with relatively clean sung vocals by Alex intermingled with screams. And when Brandon sings the chorus, it is clear why his voice is so essential in Atreyu. It's amazing, to simply put it, and my favorite song on the album. The song following Storm To Pass is You Were The King, Now You're Unconscious. The song has an epic intro that would work well in a concert setting. After that intro, the band blasts into a heavy rock tune with a ridiculous breakdown. Finally, in the last few songs, we get old Atreyu with the song Ravenous, the LSPA-era Atreyu in the songs Lonely and Wait For You. I would highly recommend looking for the version with two extra bonus tracks. I think the basic version of COTD has only 13 songs, but the version I got from Best Buy has two bonus tunes: We Are The Living Dead and Bravery. They're the heaviest tunes on COTD. The chorus to Bravery gets me everytime. Listen to it and you know why. // 9

Lyrics: Like I said before, Alex is back to screaming on COTD. However, his screaming is much different. On COTD, he ENUNCIATES. You can actually understand what he is saying when he's screaming (major plus for me). As for Brandon's singing, it's boss as always. The dude is a bitchin' singer. Alex's clean vocal aren't the best, but they're not terrible. In particular, his clean line "There is no pride involved in love" on So Wrong gets me everytime I hear it. As for the lyrics, they're mostly about the usual shit with Atreyu (love, anger, betrayal etc.) However, they're some social topics too. Insatiable seems to refer to materialism in American society, and Stop! Before We've Destroyed It All, seems to intermingle materialism again with destruction of the environment. Bleeding Is A Luxury is sort of about getting over your pain/demon. Black Days Again lyrically is the standard acopalypse-themed subject that seems to be running rampant in metal right now. We Are The Living Dead (one of the aforementioned bonus tracks) is to me a song about zombies. This section gets an 8 based on Brandon Saller's clean singing and Alex's improved screaming. // 8

Overall Impression: This album really only compares to Atreyu themselves. Alex V. Has said that their label begged them to record a heavier album, and thank God they listened. I love this album, and think it's the best Atreyu album yet. The standout songs for me are Bleeding Is A Luxury, Storm To Pass, Insatiable, Lonely, and Bravery. Call me an Atreyu fanboy if you want, I don't f--kING care! I love Congregation of the Damned and cannot wait for Atreyu to come back from their hiatus and record the follow-up. If it were lost/stolen, I'd buy another copy and thank the person who stole it for being smart enough to discover this album! It's a gem you'll rarely find in metal today ladies & gentleman: a band that can be heavy and melodic at the same time! // 9

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overall: 8.3
Congregation Of The Damned Reviewed by: SG-Burchett, on august 13, 2012
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: After the mixed reviews and watered down sound of their previous album, Atreyu manage to hit the nail on the head with their second major label album, entitled: "The Congregation Of The Damned". This album perfectly sums up the band to point at which they are. After a quick turnaround, it has strong elements of the rough edge/core sound that characterised their earlier independent label years, but incorporates the more radio friendly/softer approach from their previous outing. For the last album: "Lead Sails, Paper Anchor", Atreyu found themselves in the position of having previously released three albums, and a Best-Of encompassing these efforts. So, for them to be only just releasing their major label debut put them in a slightly strange situation. The resulting album was missing many of the elements that the band were best known for, with a lack of riffs, and lack in the contrast provided by the change between screamed and clean vocals of their two singers. This was probably due to a combination of the ambition to experiment; that most artists get as they mature, and the pressure to be more accessible to a wider audience; created by joining a major label. It wasn't all in vain though, as this album has obviously benefited from the lessons learnt. What we have been left with are all the elements that we love about Atreyu, but now with more of a grandiose/fuller sound. The accessibility has been transferred, but the sell-out jaded sound hasn't. The main good news is that the riffs are back. However, unlike previous Atreyu albums, a dual guitar melody has been used with regularity throughout the album. In my opinion, this is a sound that has to generally employed with caution, as there is the risk of a very cheesy 80s hair metal sound. The result can sometimes be to give a singy-songy sound that can dilute the song's mood. Luckily, in case of this album, the rhythm guitar has been given a strong punchy sound in the mix meaning that most of the time that sort of cheesy sound is avoided. // 9

Lyrics: The band's lyrics have never really been the best thing about them. On some of their earlier albums, they have been pop punk or verging on emo' (dare I say). This previous tendency is hinted at; with two of the songs having particularly long names, a trait typical of a few bands that emerged around the same time as Atreyu. Don't get me wrong however-we aren't verging into the lows of unoriginality and cheesiness. On the subject of the lyrics, one of the singers was quoted as saying: "It kind of feels like in a lot of ways that we, as members of a society, are just gathering around and collectively getting f***ed over. When you look at what's going on in our economy and how other people treat each other, it's kind of like we're all just lemmings. We're lined up blankly staring blindly at nothing and just going along with the flow like a congregation of the damned. So this record really reflects my thoughts and feelings about that in every possible way." That pretty much covers a lot of the songs' lyrical content on this. The track Wait For You is the exception to this though, as it covers the subject of a relationship. The singing is good on this album. The vocals come from a singer, and also the drummer. The combination of their vocals works well. The vocals have a got a good balance between singing and screaming. At regular points such as choruses, both of the singers sing together giving a nice full sound, as the slight difference between their voices gives some nice variation. Ultimately the lyrics and singing go very well with the music, but the lyrics aren't what you would call ground breaking. // 7

Overall Impression: Here's a breakdown of the tracks: 01. "Stop! Before It's Too Late & We've Destroyed It All": The album opener wastes no time in showing off the full return of riffs with an air guitar worthy intro. Pretty much screaming vocals throughout but still catchy. 02. "Bleeding Is A Luxury": The first time in the album you come across some clean vocals. The use of dramatic sounding strings in the breakdown is interesting. The song is slightly catchy but nothing special. 03. "Congregation Of The Damned": The title track has an unstoppable feel to it. Mostly clean vocals, but still has bite. The chorus has layered vocals with reverb to make it sound like a group of people are singing it. 04. "Coffin Nails": Starts with an almost oriental sounding mess of notes before kicking into the main dual guitar intro. Has a catchy chorus. 05. "Black Days Begin": This song has a great groove to it, but laden with a foreboding tone. A good mix of clean and screamed vocals. A good solo as well. 06. "Gallows": Starts with another good riff. Has a chorus that questioning feel with the final line saying: "Don't think we don't see your scars, Are you afraid of who you are?" The interlude is dramatic and compliments well. 07. "Storm To Pass": A nice soft intro with clean guitars leads nicely into the rest song. Another catchy chorus is interspersed with verses that have call/response feel. 08. "You Were The King, Now You're Unconscious": A long dramatic intro that slowly builds up leads into a killer riff. At times this song sounds like one of the heaviest on the album. Again a good balance between cleaning and screaming vocals in the verse, followed by a catchy dual vocal chorus. 09. "Insatiable": cool guitar solo, and good chorus. Says it all really. 10. "So Wrong": Dual guitar intro starts off the song. Soft verses and angry choruses. In the same way as "Storm To Pass" does, it continues the direction of the rest of the album, but having a slightly different verses breaks up potential monotony from listening to the album the whole way through. 11. "Ravenous": Starts off at a frantic pace that continues through the song. Solos at the beginning and middle are good. Sadly the rest of the song doesn't quite live up to it. Screamed verses and a weak chorus that don't really seem to fit together. 12. "Lonely": Has the same relentless rhythm to it as the title track. Catchy chorus, good vocals. 13. "Wait For You": The surprise track in context to the rest of the album. A piano based ballad with a distinctly epic feel to it. The singers get to show off their soft side. A moving chorus tops it all off, and means that even with the multitude of layers, it doesn't sound too overblown. Overall this album has plenty of things to applaud, with catchy choruses and good guitar work. While having elements of metal I would describe it as a hard rock album. Running through most of the tracks, is a relentless beat. So while listening to the album as whole, it almost seems like the music is ferrying you along with the congregation of the damned described. The album is great to listen to while driving, but you run the danger of getting a speeding ticket! If you were going to buy only one Atreyu album then it should be this one. However, this album is not perfect, and is far from ground breaking but if you want a dependable, consistent album then this more than fits the bill. // 9

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overall: 7.3
Congregation Of The Damned Reviewed by: Camerlan15, on november 24, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: At first impression, I thought this album was going to be Atreyu's return to the "heavier" or "harder hitting" metal, if you will, although I quickly found that this was not the case. Yes, some of, actually most of, the songs on this album are heavier than the Lead Sails Paper Anchor album (LSPA), but not by much. The first time I heard the song "Congregation of the Damned" I instantly thought my itunes had screwed up and went to some Avenged Sevenfold, then when I checked, it seems my itunes was operating perfectly fine, that thoroughly iritated me. The overall sound of the album was about a 7.5 out of 10, with 5 being comparable to LSPA, and 10 being comparable to Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses (my personal favorite Atreyu album). Although a personal disappointment that the album wasn't heavier, I also find myself starting to come around to the "new" Atreyu, even from the start I have respected their choice to alter their musical tastes and influences. // 7

Lyrics: The lyrics are slightly above average in my opinion, nothing too dull, yet, nothing that makes me want to instantly start singing along (which I often do). Don't get me wrong, I like the lyrics of the album, and I do sing along to it, I don't always sing along with the songs, as I always do with some of my personal Atreyu favorites (Lip Gloss and Black is a great example, that is my absolute favorite Atreyu song). As far as the singing is concerned, I personally believe that the bands singing capabilities are growing more and more with each album, that's one of my favorite things about this band, they aren't JUST screaming, but they also aren't JUST plain singing, I think it is a very nice balance. The singing and screaming on this album get a (in my opinion) well deserved 8. // 8

Overall Impression: While not comparing to my personal favorite album (Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses), it is a vast improvement over LSPA, and I would place it right below The Curse, making it my 3rd favorite Atreyu album, the most impressive song on this album would have to be Stop before it's too late and we've destroyed it all, I like that this album is heavier, and that they are growing musically with every album they produce, I don't like that some of the songs sound almost "generic" only one or two songs do, but that is still a bit annoying. Overall, I rate this album a 7.5, congratulations on the new album guys! // 7

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