Orange County’s Atreyu is a band that hardly needs any introduction in the metalcore world. With 5 albums and 2 EPs under their belts, they know exactly what their fans want. When they started drifting towards the more mainstream side of the music scene, though, they decided to call it quits for awhile. Few, including myself, knew if/when this hiatus would ever end. 6 years later, we’ve been given that answer in the form of Long Live. While Congregation of the Damned and Lead Sails Paper Anchor were amazing albums in their own right, Long Live is the album that fans of the older Atreyu material had been begging for. From the explosive opener/title track “Long Live,” we see Atreyu in their best form. The best part about it all? While they worked on the music, they had no time frame, no label breathing down their neck saying “you can’t do that”… making for a better experience, better music and one of the most impressive releases of 2015.
Is this the most aggressive album the band has written? Certainly not, though, some will say that it boasts some of the heaviest tracks since 2004’s The Curse. Alex Varkatzas decided to completely nix out any clean vocal portions from him, putting in their place the angst-ridden screams we’ve all come to know and love. In terms of the band’s returning sound, this album could fit perfectly in between 2006’s Deathgrip On Yesterday and 2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor. While you can tell that frontman Varkatzas definitely hasn’t done this in awhile, it’s clear that he’s put his all into it. Meanwhile, the soaring choruses from drummer/clean vocalist Brandon Saller really build the tracks up and prove that they’re far from washed up. In addition, “Big” Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel have returned with some of the best, cleanest and grooviest riffs they’ve ever written. It’s safe to say that the time away from each other really made them hunger for this return.
On Long Live, we see a side of the beast that we haven’t seen in a long time. Where there is aggression, there is beauty… a newfound sense of purpose within the band. It’s when songs like “I Would Kill/Lie/Die (For You),” written about the bond between a father and son and, by extension, the feelings Varkatzas had when he became a father, that really make this album shine. The real twist in the album is when we get to “Do You Know Who You Are?” that we see something incredibly different from them. I feel as though this song was in Saller’s arsenal for his side project Hell or Highwater but it fell into place on the album so well. With a classic *stomp, stomp, clap* driving the song from beginning to end, reminiscent of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” this track is certainly one of the most well-executed tracks in their repertoire thus far. With venom, sarcasm and truth spitting from the mouth of Varkatzas, it really makes you sit and ask the question “do you know who you are?.” As Saller sings these words, along with “Are you part of the solution or the one at fault?” it really sinks in. What is it that makes you who you are? Are you making a difference in the world? Are you making a positive or negative impact on the ones close to you in your life? Be it as a father, a teacher, a police officer, whatever you may be doing that defines you… do you truly know who you are?
The acoustic interlude, “Revival” leads into one of the best riffs ever to come from Jacobs, one of those air guitar riffs you’ll never get out of your head. The transition from this into “Heartbreaks and Flatlines,” is absolutely flawless. This is another one of those philosophical tracks, with the band letting you know that there’s more to life than sitting and waiting for life to end. It’s a track that teaches you to grab life by the balls, hold on and don’t let go until the ride’s over.
Of course, if you’ve followed the band, you’ll know that they absolutely despise bullying. Well, they’ve finally created the track “Brass Balls” as an answer to those. This is their equivalent to the age-old saying that “those in glass houses, shouldn’t throw stones.” “Lay yourself down on the tracks, crucified by your own words, you’re no cross-bearer, you’re not a f**king martyr!” Saller sings, mocking those who have dared to put the band or anyone else down for the way they live their lives. This track is backed by 80s style riffs, reminiscent of “Blow,” the most profane track the band has ever written. While this has far more meaning than that track, that influence is definitely ingrained into it.
The album ends on the same note it began, fast, furious and gets you starving for it’s attention. While “Moments Before Dawn” is more on the melodic side, it’s extremely powerful. This is one of those tracks that sees Varkatzas in a contemplative light and kind of thinking “what could have been?” The track is about the struggle that you face with insomnia, your thoughts get the darkest and your brain never wants to shut off. You find yourself thinking about things that you normally wouldn’t but, for some reason, the dark brings out the worst of them. If you’re a victim of this (as most of us are)… this track is definitely designed to show you that you’re not alone.
I could talk about each and every track, in detail, until my face turned blue but I’d like to leave a few surprises for you. Sadly, I have yet to hear the bonus tracks so I can’t tell you what is in store for you, there. What I can tell you, though, is that Long Live puts Atreyu back in their rightful place as the kings of early 00s metalcore. This album brings back that nostalgic feeling we’d hoped for with each release after Deathgrip On Yesterday and shows that they refuse to be anything less than themselves. It’s honest, it’s brutal and it’s beautiful from start to finish. If you’ve ever been a fan of Atreyu, you need to check this album out… regardless of what era you became a fan, there’s something on this album for you. Atreyu is back, “The Beast Has Risen…” Long Live Atreyu! Pick up your copy, out tomorrow via Spinefarm/Search & Destroy Records!
“Long Live” (Official Music Video)