Californian metalcore band, Atreyu, return with their 7th studio album, In Our Wake. In Our Wake was released on the 12th of October via Spinefarm Records.
The band, with a cool name if you are a fan of The Never Ending Story, formed in 1998 and are one of the earlier bands with a metalcore sound. Atreyu really hit the ground running. After a few early EPs, they signed to Victory Records on 2001 and released three albums. Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, The Curse and A Death-Grip on Yesterday. While there were a few more record labels and a few more albums, many people would put those early three down as the band’s best work. In particular, The Curse.
The band went on hiatus in 2011 before returning in 2014 with a new album releasing a year later called Long Live. That was the last album before In Our Wake. Atreyu are a 5 piece with only one position changing hands since their original formation, though they did add a second guitarist too. On lead vocals we have Alex Varkatzas. Guitars and backing vocals are with Dan Jacobs. On drums, co-lead vocals, programming and a bit of everything else is Brandon Saller. The second guitarist, added in 2001 is Travis Miguel. Finally, the bassist is Marc McKnight. It was this bass position that changed hands 3 times in the band’s early years before Marc joined in 2004.
So, Atreyu, for those who don’t know, are classified as metalcore but don’t stick rigidly to any one genre. I often find their songs dabble in hard rock or stadium rock more so than metalcore. Chuck in a little traditional metal, pop punk chorus and dare I say it, nu-metal and it is fair to say they are a band that try to expand their sound. I guess if you are around for as long as they have been, the only way to keep the music fresh is to try to incorporate more elements.
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In Our Wake continues the trend of being hard to pin down to a single genre and comes across experimental. In Our Wake has 12 tracks on it and is around 45 minutes in length. One thing that is for sure, In Our Wake is not targeted towards the heavier side of the band feeling much more like a hard rock album. There appears to be a focus on melody and the harsh vocals of Varkatzas seem to be used much more sparingly than I would like. Instead a lot of the songs lean on the admittedly nice clean singing voice of co-lead vocalist and drummer, Brandon Saller.
I imagine only the most fervent, cannot be swayed, supporter of Atreyu will be okay with this latest move away from what was once their signature sound. A sound they had appeared to recapture on latest release Long Live. I think if you are fans of the heavier side of metal you may find this to be a little designed for radio play in parts. Luke warm, commercialised – basically not a million miles away from the recent release, Gravity, by Bullet For My Valentine.
Thankfully it isn’t anywhere near as bad as Gravity. There are a couple very enjoyable tracks on here. Nothing Will Ever Change has a nice main riff to it and some great squealing guitars that lead into a drawn out roar. Nice heavy verses are followed by a catchy chorus with some harmonised clean/unclean vocals. There is also a really neat little solo. Blind Deaf & Dumb starts with a little electro before kicking in with a nice drum rhythm and gang vocals. There is a seriously catchy groove to this one. Paper Castle is a slower one but still has merits. Especially in another catchy chorus and a little switch to shouted vocals nearing the end.
Many other songs have little moments I like but without amounting to anything truly memorable. I like the little solo at the end of No Control but find the verses and chorus to be weak and watery. Safety Pin has a nice intro with a chugging riff and little guitar melody that I love but it fades to verses that again have little memorable happening. Into the Open has a decent chorus and a catchy little breakdown near the end. Anger Left Behind has some heavier sections I like but leans heavily on little synth/electro effects.
There are also songs I really don’t like here though. Terrified is slow, electro heavy and boring. Title track In Our Wake has a catchy pop feel to it but is far from unique and sounds washed out and uninspired. The last song has two guests on it. M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold fame and Aaron Gillespie of Underoath. Unfortunately it turns out to be a soppy ballad. There are some nice guitar melodies, especially at the start but it doesn’t amount to much and really doesn’t make much use of the calibre of the guests.
In Our Wake has moments I like. They tend to be when the band gravitate towards a slightly heavier sound with a bit of a crunchy riff and some shouted vocals. That is more to my taste. I can appreciate a few catchy songs here and there and like a few of the choruses and guitar solos. Overall though, I don’t really think In Our Wake stands out in any way. It sounds very polished, ready for radio and lacks heaviness, groove, melody, excitement. Just basically sounds diluted, ready for the right type of audience which clearly isn’t me. It isn’t a terrible album. I can see it being very popular with many people actually. It isn’t really for me though. A couple tracks aside, one listen is more than enough.
In Our Wake is available now on all the usual streaming platforms, like Apple Music and Spotify. You can grab a physical copy at the Amazon links above or from Atreyu, here. Find out more on the band at their website, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following the links.
In Our Wake by Atreyu (Spinefarm)