Sound — 4
First off, let me start by saying that Atreyu's first CDs and the two EPs that they put out before this were absolutely amazing, and helped to change my view on music and life in general. They are the band that singularly drew me into the metal and hardcore scenes, just a little bit before The Curse came out. This CD however, has been one of the biggest musical disappointments I have ever had. For those who don't know, Atreyu recently switched from Victory to Hollywood records, basically because they weren't getting enough money from Victory. Hollywood is a Disney-owned label, and they are now labelmates with the likes of Hannah Montana. Some other fun facts are that Nickleback, yes, Nickleback, helped with writing on this CD and that the vocalist from Buckcherry does guest vocals on the song Blow. Does any of this sound like Atreyu to you? The answer is no. As a matter of fact, the entire CD besides a select two or three songs sounds absolutely nothing like Atreyu. I found myself wondering if it was a joke and they were waiting to release the real songs. But after listening to it all the way through seven or eight times, I was disgusted and just glad that I didn't spend money on it and instead listened to it on their myspace. While the CD is varied, that isn't a good thing for Atreyu. They are good at writing a heavy metalcore song, which there are glimpses of on this, such as in Honor, Can't Happen Here, When Two are One, and Lose It. Everything else, however, is horrible. The guitars are the highlight of the CD, but only for their technicality and sometimes heavy/gritty aspects. They don't carry any emotion as they did in the last song, where you could almost feel what Alex was expressing through the guitars. There is none of that now, just shredding. Once you get to Falling Down, you find yourself asking "Since when the hell did Atreyu steal the 'Dance, Dance' intro?" And everything past there is just bad, from the 80's rock infused with pop and minimal screaming of such songs as Blow, to the emo song No One Cares, and then they sink all the way down to the country, yes, country, including a steel guitar and everything, on Lead Sails Paper Anchor. Besides the guitars being good, there are no real highlights in musicianship at all. The drums are there, but they're mediocre, the quick double bass of old is replaced with basic beats and few fills, and all of the chorus drums sound the same. The bass has never been that good, and has been even more dumbed down here. The vocals, I can't even get started on. Alex has almost stopped screaming altogether! He is trying to sing, which doesn't suit his voice, and on most songs, such as the single Becoming the Bull and Doomsday, you hear only brief glimpses of screaming, which was a huge element of their sound before. Now it's gone along with Atreyu. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that changing for a band is a good thing, bands change and evolve and that is understandable, but this was a pure sellout. Atreyu has lost touch with what made them Atreyu and as a result, this album was horrible. If it was the band's first album and I was listening to it for the first time, I'd say that they wouldn't last very long. Flame me if you must for this review, but the CD simply is not good.
Lyrics — 2
I am a writer as much as a musician, and as a result of this, I pay a lot, and I mean a lot of attention to lyrics. These are cliche, they are dumbed down and don't even make much sense. Whereas the old lyrics were thought out and expressed a level of literary skill, the new ones are just there. They can't catch my attention and I am left wanting SO much more. Here's an example from No One Cares: "No one cares, no one listens, saying words that you fake hearing, no one cares, no one listens anymore, so paranoid I've been hiding from the sun, I'm afraid of everything and everyone." There's just no merit to that, it's not even that catchy. The few exceptions to the lyrical ineptitude of this CD are Honor, When Two Are One, Can't Happen Here, and Lose It, which are also the four best tracks the CD has to offer. Part of this decline in lyrical capability I believe is that Brandon is writing more lyrics now whereas Alex used to write more of them, and Alex is a much, much better lyricist. Compare the lyrics I posted above to these (from Tulips Are Better): "F--k all your false beauty It was transparent just like your smile, liar Your thorns caress my flesh Crimson drops on a snowy field, liar I have watched you retrogress I have watched what you've become, liar Please take your eyes off of me It's funny how fast blue eyes fade gray, liar" These represent an actual theme, along with an excellent metaphor running throught the song and great imagery throughout. What happened to that? Why are we now getting lyrics like this: "So f--kin' blow those words out the back of your head, I've heard it all and I'm done with that shit, You tell me lies, and you get what you get, so blow those f--kin' words out the back of your head." These lyrics just do not do it for me at all.
Overall Impression — 3
Overall, this CD can never ever compare to their old stuff, and it is a sell-out, radio-friendly, pop CD, basically sounding like what would happen if Fall Out Boy hooked up with the guitarist from Motley Crue. It can't compare to any other CDs out there today, especially if you are a metal fan, which if you are, I would recommend the new releases from As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada, Darkest Hour, and Between the Buried and Me. The highlights of this album are Honor, When Two Are One, Can't Happen Here, and Lose It. Other than that, everything else barely touches the point of mediocrity, and are only saved, if they are at all, by the technicality of the guitars. I love that Atreyu tried something new, and the guitars are definetley much better technically, but Atreyu has lost their emotion and their drive, and everything but the guitars just isn't good. If this CD were stolen or lost, I would feel bad for whoever stole it/found it.