Long Live review by Atreyu

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  • Released: Sep 18, 2015
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6 Neat
  • Users' score: 5.7 (35 votes)
Atreyu: Long Live
3

Sound — 6
Being a key display of the difficulty that bands can face when it comes to attempting to change in style and not fulfilling their original expectations, Atreyu's career - from its rocketing rise to a plummeting fall - has gone hand in hand with their sound. With their first three albums showing the band ascend from a promising new metalcore act to a household name for the genre, they would sign with the major label Hollywood Records in 2007. It was this point that Atreyu would attempt a big leap from their metalcore style into a more commercial-driven metal/rock style (it's easy to assume that the Disney-owned record label they were signed with was a big influencer of this change), and with their fourth album, "Lead Sails Paper Anchor," achieving better Billboard chart positions than any of their previous albums, it was also met with a wide panning from critics and listeners alike, stating how the band parlaying into this more accessible metal sound felt uncharacteristic, disingenuous, and lackluster.

That prominent sentiment was more or less the reason for Atreyu's goal of re-capturing their original, heavier metalcore style in their fifth album, "Congregation of the Damned." But despite the band overstating that intention, the album overall was a wishy-washy juggling act between the band's former sound and current sound. Still not dug out of their own hole, the band would go on hiatus to work on other projects, and with those side-projects going in different directions (from drummer Brandon Smaller's side-project Hell or Highwater being a more mainstream metal effort, to frontman Alex Varkatzas' side-project I Am War being an aggressive indulgence), it was another indication that Atreyu's direction was being pulled in too many uncooperative ways.

Having officially reunited a year ago with the clear intention of making their sixth album, Atreyu are still stuck at the crossroads they've been at since "Congregation...," and the question still remains: what sound does Atreyu want to reach for? With "Long Live," Atreyu once again go through the ringer for an amalgam sound like they did in "Congregation...," from the heavy and high-gear metalcore cuts of "Live to Labor" and the titular opener, to the elementary midtempo metal slugger "Cut Off the Head," and the gothy, drab ballad of "Moments Before Dawn."

In most cases, though, songs here pose as representatives of previous albums - the melodic metalcore style of "I Would Kill / Lie / Die (For You)" harks back to "A Death-Grip on Yesterday," the glam metal-inspired "Brass Balls" clearly belongs to the "Lead Sails Paper Anchor" days (as well as the stomp/clap arena metal cut "Do You Know Who You Are," which conjures a Queen's "We Will Rock You" vibe in an agonizing fit on injustice), and "Reckless" contains a number of characteristics from the "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses" era, from the whisper vocals and tempo changes to the ending gang chant breakdown calling back to the final breakdown in "Lip Gloss and Black." The songs that re-invoke the style of "The Curse," however, end up being too on-the-nose - the gentle opening guitar melody and chugging verses in "A Bitter Broken Memory" seem quite familiar to "The Crimson," and the main triplet guitar riff and verse growls of "Heartbeats and Flatlines" staunchly emulates "Bleeding Mascara." But even if it's an almost purely shameless revamp of old material, Atreyu know that the old fans who have been waiting for another iteration of such will take it without complaint.

Lyrics — 6
Also being a mixed bag like the music, Varkatzas' lyrics in "Long Live" cover a number of bases. While the opening self-titled track serves as both a standard metalcore uplifter and a "we're back from our hiatus to kick ass" message (per obligation with any band's returning album), Varkatzas' latter-era penchant for lyrics with sociopolitical undertones and criticism of the droning majority make a substantial impact on the album, heard in "Start to Break" ("Mediocre, their soulless lives / They live for nothing, they have no pride") and "Live to Labor" (where Varkatzas mockingly growls "What do you offer? / What can you create? / What do you contribute? / What profit gets made?").

More than anything, though, Varkatzas brings back his doom and gloom emo style of lyrics as another appeal to classic-era Atreyu. Though "I Would Kill / Lie / Die (For You)" sets this dominant lyrical tangent on a positive, albeit extreme and obsessive, note in favor of love ("This I swear, my honor and hope / to hold and protect you, to fight each and every war"), Varkatzas' heart takes a beating throughout the rest of these bouts, from the relationship postmortem in "A Bitter Broken Memory" and the nihilistic and suicidal feelings in the wake of such in "Moments Before Dawn," to "Cut Off the Head" tapping back into the occult themes that were prevalent in the lyrics of Atreyu's early work.

Overall Impression — 6
For a returning album, the general mission of aggregating the numerous metal styles of Atreyu in "Long Live" treads a line of ambivalence. While this goal isn't the most ambitious, sacrifices the chance for a strong cohesiveness throughout the album, and essentially is just a repeat of the backpedaling likes of "Congregation...," "Long Live" still deserves credit for superseding the lesser output of its predecessor, especially in the midst of the many complaining that Atreyu have lost their capacity for heaviness, and though some of the rehashing of their early sound is more along the lines of following a template rather than influencing something fresh, it's still bound to please those who still have "The Curse" in their regular rotation. Overall, "Long Live" succeeds in proving that Atreyu can still dish out some decent metalcore.

35 comments sorted by best / new / date

    btwile719
    Everyone asks for Atreyu and similar bands to touch on their old sound and go back to their roots more *band reverts to old sound "They haven't progressed at all!" "This would have been cool 10 years ago" seriously some of these artists can't win
    Karlsteel
    By the same token, returning to your "classic" sound isn't a free ride - you also need to do the business. The "they can't win" is an excuse and a kop out.
    IfDaysEnd
    Wasn't that bad to me...I found it refreshing, specially in a scene filled with bands that sound the same or that are trying too hard to sound different. I've given it quite a few spins and it's definitely a grower.
    Jbelv1
    This album was way better than everyone's making it out to be
    Arthurman
    Can it really be that bad? Even worse than latest from Five Fags Doing Pushups?
    Xomar
    I think FFDP stinks as much as the next guy but I think it's a little late in the history of mankind to still be using the word "fag".
    dj bowron
    i think we SHOULD be past censoring words... sadly we aren't. giving certain words power is a bad idea that only causes violence in the long run
    Machineflame
    And I think it's a little late in the history of mankind to still be making music like "Five Fratboys Drinking Porch" but the internet is the wrong place to be in the PC police my friend...
    vppark2
    It is average. Just another band returning, trying to return to their old sound, but coming out with nothing new.
    dj bowron
    metal head logic: try new shit? SELLOUT! do same stuff? NOTHING NEW!!!!!
    cemerson2012
    This is a very confusing release to me. There are moments of brilliant writing and great guitar playing, but the great parts don't stand by themselves and are often overshadowed by weirdness (Do you know who you are). I think overall it's what I was expecting, but I didn't anticipate the whole record to be so out of balance and disoriented. Atreyu were a big part of what was good about metalcore, it's a shame things turned out like this for them.
    GenerationKILL
    Is the world ready for another Atreyu album? Does the world even need another Atreyu album though? Their co-horts, Avenged Sevenfold have progressed and evolved a long way since this sound, and I just feel as though it shows its age today. Maybe this album would've fit in almost eight years ago where it belongs and should've been done, but now I just feel as though its unnecessary and shows the band hasn't evolved at all as Atreyu. I was actually really keen for the drummers side band Hell or Highwater and liked the album because it had a consistent sound and good song writing. Atreyu's music still sounds too immature and juvenile for me now, and maybe this would've been cool to me ten years ago like whrn I first heard their early stuff. Read the lyrics from any one of these videos then notice it looks like a few of them are even getting gray hair and you might begin to realize what I am talking about. I'm not interested in a new Atreyu album, probably because I grew out of them while they were gone. I am sure there's plenty of 18 year olds this album will be great for though. I look more forward to the drummer's band's next album, because at least their music sounded more progressive and mature than this. I'll always have good memories of Atreyu's earlier stuff because that's when I was younger. Now, it'll just stay a memory though because it seems like they haven't evolved or matured that sound. Could be because they've been away for too long now.
    khujo1023
    LOL, thanks for telling us you've hit puberty!
    GenerationKILL
    LOL since you're chiming in now about me hitting puberty, do you often find yourself thinking about young boys and when they get to that age?
    khujo1023
    Wait, didnt you just give a diatribe about your maturity level? LOL And no... I dont think about young boys when they get to a certain age.... Just you sweet pea... Just you
    GenerationKILL
    You could make a dark man blush. I'm flattered. Anything else you'd like to add to this conversation, or are you one of those plebs who just cruises comments sections to hassle other commenters??
    Abacus11
    A. I didn't realize that this band still existed. I remember sort of liking their first album or two )early 2000's?) but then hating the next one and forgetting about them. B. VERY well-written review.
    vppark2
    Some of these song names are laughable. I mean, it doesn't sound like they've grown up with a song such as I Would Kill/Lie/Die (For You), but the Brass Balls? I'll go no further...
    ponchodelmar
    this review fucking blows. Guess what, bands change just as much as your taste buds do. Bet you didn't like onions when you were ten? But you might like them when you turn 20! I mean fuck what are these bands to do to win these day? How can expect a band to stay exactly the same for the remaining of their existence? This band fucking rips it, And always fucking has! If you don't like them then stop listening to them. Stop picking these bands apart that have had, and always will have life long fans.
    Karlsteel
    Sounds like the reviewer was a fan, and won't just blindly hail everything a band puts out regardless of its quality. As the review states, "Atreyu know that the old fans who have been waiting for another iteration of such will take it without complaint". For people with only a passing interest in the ban (or neutrals), there's very little on this record to inspire or pique your interest.
    Karlsteel
    Great review, that's informed and clearly without an agenda (unlike other UG reviews of late). I heard the single So Others May Live months back, and thought it was a great song. I hoped that it would be an indication of things to come, but this is just underwhelming and feels like they're putting out a record because there's label commitments to keep. They returned to their old sound, but only in the sense that it sounds like they went back for the tracks they rejected last time round.
    FUglySchtick
    Personally, I rate Atreyu right up there with A7X. They're a great band, and I'm happy they're back. The album is a bit of a mixed bag, but in my opinion; they took the best aspects of what they'd done previously, and took a stab at it. I think those that would knock them for an album like this after an extended hiatus, is either ignorant or unfamiliar with Atreyu to begin with. They're trying to get there legs back, they left in the middle of a metamorphosis;Congregation wasn't an album on its own. It was a step in evolution. It's like they're caught between becoming what they were about too, and regression; I'm sure if we (the legit fans) support them, and we're vocal about our feelings and offer positive constructive criticism. They'll stick around and we'll see another album in a few years that'll offer a clearer picture.
    MyUserName777
    Called the score before looking at it. UG reviews have become so predictable nowadays. Anyways, there's some really good songs on here. It drags a bit in the middle but picks right up at Hearbeats & Flatlines.