Music

Atreyu: A Death-Grip on Yesterday

They might be the biggest metalcore band in America right now, but Atreyu don’t quite sound like it yet.


Atreyu

A Death-Grip on Yesterday

Label: Victory
US Release Date: 2006-03-28
UK Release Date: 2006-03-27
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

Regarded as pariahs by fans of traditional metal, it’s easy to understand why Atreyu has been the subject of great derision from the metal crowd over the last couple of years. One of the most popular metalcore bands in America, the Orange County, California, band employs every cliché in the book, from the all-too-overused “good cop/bad cop” vocal style (in which a hardcore “screamer” is offset by an emo singer), to relying heavily on power metal guitar riffs, to those silly haircuts and that eyeliner. However, as silly as Atreyu look, as straightforward as they sound, from a musical standpoint they work the clichés well enough to stand out from the rest of the metalcore hordes. The dual vocals are actually done rather well, Alex Varkatzas’s tone-deaf retching matched by the singing of drummer Brandon Saller, who pulls off some very catchy vocal hooks. While the guitar work is nothing new, Dan Jacobs is a very talented lead guitarist, capable of nimble riffs that sound equal parts Accept and Diamond Head, not to mention some of the flashiest solos you’ll hear in metalcore today.

Trouble is, Atreyu never take enough risks. Their 2004 album The Curse was bolstered by some tremendous songs that transcended the cookie-cutter vibe, such as the galloping “Bleeding Mascara” and the terrific, ultra-catchy single “Right Side of the Bed”, both of which dipped into early '80s metal while sounding trendy enough to please the kids. Despite being a somewhat likeable album, too many songs reverted to plain-jane hardcore, pandering to the spin-kicking hardcore kids, and boring the hell out of the headbangers. If that wasn’t enough, their peers in Avenged Sevenfold left Atreyu in their dust in 2005, as their epic, fabulous disaster of an album City of Evil ingeniously melded Iron Maiden and Helloween with surreal, pop-punk choruses. As big a mess as City of Evil was, it was an album that dared to attempt something different, and Avenged Sevenfold’s boldness was rewarded by huge sales.

Which leads us to Atreyu and the crucial follow-up to their commercial breakthrough, and while A Death-Grip on Yesterday does take some baby steps in an attempt to build on the success of the previous record, it’s ultimately a complacent piece of work that, despite some good moments, can’t quite manage to fully take flight. To no one’s surprise, the vocal hooks still dominate, as Saller continues to pull off an uncanny Grant Hart imitation (that’s Hüsker Dü, kids), his melodies dominating tracks like “Creature”, “Shameful”, “The Theft”, and the oh-so-cleverly titled “Untitled Finale”, but for the most part, producer Josh Abraham, who has worked on massively successful, yet painfully drab albums by Velvet Revolver and Staind, has the band dumbing-down their sound more than ever, relying heavily on uninspired riffs that sound more nü-metal than metalcore. Actually, if it wasn’t for the fact that nearly every song is rescued by choruses that are guaranteed to thrill the Warped Tour crowd, the album would be a complete waste of time.

We do get traces of old school metal appearing from time to time, as on the tasteful gallop of “Our Sick Story”, the melodic single “Ex’s and Oh’s” (dudes, seriously, work on your titles), and “My Fork in the Road”, all of which are highlighted by the fluid, fleet-fingered fretboard work of Jacobs (dig those '80s divebombs on “Ex’s”). Unfortunately, as the saying goes, it’s hard to soar like an eagle when you’re in a room full of turkeys, and Jacobs’s talents are for the most part wasted on an album that has Atreyu taking the easy way out, a paltry 32 minutes of lowest-common-denominator kiddiecore, instead of playing to their strengths. Their many fans deserve something better.

5

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image