Orange County’s Atreyu were part of the metalcore boom of the early 2000s before going away on hiatus, but they’re seemingly back for good with ‘In Our Wake’, the band’s seventh studio album and their second since their return in 2014.
If you want an album full of guttural screams and metalcore riffing, which to many is their signature sound, chances are this probably isn’t going to scratch that itch.
Immediately the band’s intentions are crystal clear in wanting stadium-sized sing-alongs. Brandon Saller‘s vocal range is put to good use in the title-track but, unfortunately, there are many predictable aspects of this song, as well as some tired lyrical narratives in the chorus. There are also some incredibly forced sounding ideas too, such as the chanting in ‘Blind, Deaf & Dumb’.
What’s also noticeably off at times, especially in the intro and first verse of ‘Into The Open’, is the over-done production. Let’s see who’s on the production credits… oh, now it makes sense! It’s John Feldmann, working with Atreyu for a second time, making sure that no knobs or levers on his mixing desk have been left un-twiddled, and every possible compression plug-in utilised, of course. Who needs dynamic range anyway?
Ultimately, the biggest downfall of ‘In Our Wake’ is that just when it’s about to reach a peak, it takes a dip. There’ll be a part you want to like that’s quickly followed by a bland, uninspired arena rock trope. For every song like ‘Nothing Will Ever Change’, which gets close to their old school sound, there’s completely non-descript numbers like ‘Safety Pin’. Even the former track has a cringe-worthy moment where the band stops for the exclamation of “Ohhh, fuck it.”
The more post-hardcore tinged ‘House Of Gold’ and head-banger ‘Anger Left Behind’ are some of the better offerings, though, and this is proof that there’s some redeeming features on show.
Lighters-in-the-air closer ‘Super Hero’ features the guest appearances of Aaron Gillespie (Underoath) and M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold), and it’s a nice touch for them to feature members of bands who they cut their teeth with back in the day. This is a bit of a gamble, and very much on the cheesy side, but this track features more ambition than all of the others on the record. They’d certainly benefit from going for the jugular in a similar vein more often.
The issue with ‘In Our Wake’ is that, even in its shining moments, you’re still left wanting so much more, and 46 minutes feels like 2 hours. This record isn’t awful or unlistenable, but it definitely falls short of what it sets out to achieve.