The news that Atreyu were to go on an indefinite hiatus back in 2011 was one that impacted the fans, and the metalcore fanbase as whole, quite notably. Despite the lacklustre releases of their last two albums; the hit-or-really-miss ‘Lead Sails, Paper Anchor’ or the disappointing ‘Congregation Of The Damned’, Atreyu had been a band that helped form and solidify the genre throughout the noughties.
The members decided to go their own ways to focus on other outlets for a little while, most notably with frontman Alex Varkatzas working on his side-project I Am War with Bleeding Through vocalist Brandan Schieppati, and drummer Brandon Saller being able to commit more with his other musical output, Hell Or Highwater. However, come June 2014, just more than three years since the news of their downtime, Atreyu confirmed their return, and the hope to hark back to the sound of their critically received 2004 LP, ‘The Curse’.
Indeed, ‘Long Live’ sounds very much like the album that should’ve been slotted between the melodic metalcore sound of ‘A Death-Grip On Yesterday’ and the hard rock wannabe effort portrayed in ‘Lead Sails, Paper Anchor’ with little hints reminiscent of ‘The Curse’ littered throughout. This a record that tries to play to the strengths on both side of their style coin, and for the most part succeeds.
Opener and title-track ‘Long Live’ is definitely classic Atreyu, from Varkatzas‘ “Go!”, the pedal is hit down hard to the pumped up verses that sees him deliver his trademark raspy yelps, and later track ‘Start To Break’ follows in a similar fashion, seeing Saller‘s cleans on top form. ‘Cut Off The Head’ verges on nu-metal, bringing forth the whispering (which also sees an appearance in ‘Moments Before Dawn’) from Varkatzas that were such a prominent injection of horror in their earlier work, also nailed into place with lyrics like “Jet black your heart / Cut out your heart”.
Sadly, it’s the more 80s rock vibe that Atreyu go for that brings for the record’s weakest moments. ‘Brass Balls’ sounds like the band are trying to be themselves and Bon Jovi at the same time to little merit, and ‘Do You Know Who You Are?’ is borderline cringey, with a drum march that pushes the track along, and sounds like a poor man’s rip-off of ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen.
With their batteries recharged, Atreyu are back to reclaim their place as one of metalcore’s more elite players. ‘Long Live’, admittedly, may not stand atop their catalogue as their greatest effort, nor will it be considered a game changer by any means, but in a scene that is becoming more and more saturated by the day, they’re one of the best at doing what so many others do so poorly. Long live Atreyu.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)