The undisputed heavyweight champions of emo, watered-down, overproduced pseudo-metal have returned! Just kidding, I love Atreyu. Their unique blend of metalcore, alternative, and a touch of classic metal on albums like The Curse and A Death-Grip On Yesterday served as a major gateway for me into this beautiful world of aggressive music. I am also unflinching in my affection for 2007’s poppier, more old school Leads Sails Paper Anchor, and the album where it all came together, 2009’s career-best Congregation of the Damned. Thus, when the band announced an indefinite hiatus in 2011, I was definitely bummed. And by only the most intricate powers of deduction, one can assume that I was the opposite of bummed when Atreyu announced their return three years later, in June 2014.
Fast forward to July 2015, and we have a September 18th release date for the band’s sixth studio album, Long Live, and three singles, the latest of which is the title track, as seen above. First released was the anthemic “So Others May Live”, which beautifully merged crushing Pantera-style riffs, vintage Atreyu vocals from screamer Alex Varkatzas and drummer/crooner Brandon Saller, and superb lyrical content. It is quite possibly one of best songs the band has ever released. Next was “When the Day Is Done”,which I didn’t care for, if only due to the unforgivably cliche lyric “I’ll fly on broken wings”. Eeek.
“Long Live”, though, is another fucking gem. With a lead riff that could squeeze itself into a Slayer album, the track presents itself as a thrashier The Curse era. The gang vocals in the verses add a dose of hardcore that nicely juxtapose the song’s sleek chorus. The key to enjoying Atreyu is to see past any painful awareness of their formula. Screamed verses, melodramatic emo choruses, and some breakdowns. I know. But when the quality is at the level of “So Others May Live” and “Long Live”, it is difficult to fault a band for following a winning formula to perfection and adding some welcome, heavier new ingredients. Welcome back, Atreyu.