COLUMN: Atreyu's album, Congregation of the Damned released
by Carter Williams
When Atreyu left Victory Records at the end of 2006 to search for a major label, bright lights and success were forecasted for the five-piece post-hardcore band from Orange County, Calif.
The following year, Atreyu decided to sign with Hollywood Records and its major-label debut album Lead Sails Paper Anchor peaked at no. 8 on Billboard's Top 200, making it the most successful debut for the band, which formed in 1998.
However, many diehard fans of Atreyu were hesitant to follow the band into its new limelight because the sound was significantly different from the past.
The traditional screaming vocals of Alex Varkatzas became more of smoky grunts and the hardcore riffs were toned down to more of a "corporate rock" sound.
It seemed like the only thing that remained were the mind-blowing solos from lead guitarist "Big" Dan Jacobs and the harmonious choruses from drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller.
With the success, Atreyu went on tour with such bands as Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine and Blessthefall.
In the spring of this year, Varkatzas announced Atreyu would return with Congregation of the Damned, which was released Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Atreyu released two songs from the album to give a taste of what the CD would sound like.
The song "Stop! Before It's Too Late and We've Destroyed It All" garnered the support of the immense hardcore crowd that fallowed Atreyu for its screaming sound.
The second song "Storm To Pass" became the first single off the album and featured a more radio friendly sound and Varkatzas' singing vocals were cleaned up more than before and a very melodic chorus from Saller.
Varkatzas said the band wanted to return to its hardcore roots, but the CD would have the hard rock sounds from Lead Sails Paper Anchor mixed within.
The songs "Ravenous" and "Bleeding Is a Luxury" in addition to "Stop! Before It's Too Late and We've Destroyed It All" show the hardcore screaming side Atreyu grew to fame with having.
Despite the majority of the songs not having the screaming vocals of Varkatzas, only "Storm To Pass" sounds much like a song off Lead Sails Paper Anchor.
Varkatzas said the album would be the darkest and heaviest album for the band to date.
The songs "You Were the King, Now You're Unconscious," "Coffin Nails" and "Black Days Reign" back up Varkatzas' claim.
All three songs provide slow and intense head-knotting riffs, but strong sing-a-long choruses by Saller.
The album ends with a strong piano-laced acoustic ballad entitled "Wait For You," which shows the softer side of the band.
One thing for sure, whether you're a fan of the hardcore screaming side of Atreyu or the toned-down innovative side of the band, you will find an overwhelming for Congregation of the Damned.
For the fans of hard rock, metal or hardcore music, this CD is a must buy.
At the end of the year, will make a sincere case for the best hard rock/metal album the year.