Atreyu – The Curse

The Curse

In the band’s overly narcissistic one-sheet, Atreyu claims to be pioneers of the retro-emo-metalcore movement. Watch as I dissect the annoying self-labeling.

1. Retro – The only retro part of Atreyu’s sound is the 80s metal guitar solos. The band is actually really good, but just because you incorporate one part of a genre in your sound does not make you part of that genre. Cake is not a funk band, even though Cake’s bassist is funkier than Detroit itself.
2. Emo – Maybe Atreyu’s unprinted lyrics are emo, cause the music sure isn’t emo. The guitar style is wrong, and the sung vocals bear more resemblance to nu-metal than to emo.
3. Metal – Atreyu isn’t really metal; The double bass kick drum is sparingly used, and mediocre, mournful singing is employed just as much as the brutal screaming, if not more. Another non-metal touch: most of the choruses are sung. The guitars don’t keep the thumping metal chug for very long – they often fall off into nu-metal chord mashing.
4. –core. Yeah, this is the right one. Metalcore. The “Less-hard-than-metal” metal. Atreyu has a basis of metal, but the band strays off the sound of metal so often that it’s not really metal.

Now that we’ve deconstructed Atreyu’s opinion of itself, we can get on describing the actual music, which is actually pretty good. Atreyu knows how to blend all its influences together to write cohesive, original songs.

An average song starts off with one of the guitars chugging away in a very metal way with another guitar over it playing a massive, wicked guitar solo. The verse kicks in, and the screaming begins in full force, but for no apparent reason, this hardcore-metal sound folds into a modern-rock chorus, complete with very mournful, very mediocre sung vocals. The band then plays an amazingly cool bridge (nearly all of them are completely awesome, for some reason), then go back to the bland chorus to end the song.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the same song structure every time. No matter how freaking awesome the guitar solos are (and they are pretty awesome) that alone cannot save an album. Also, if I only said one sentence about the choruses, that wouldn’t convey to you how bad they actually are. They ALL fall flat. All of them. None of them can convey any emotions on parallel with the screams; the screams are genuinely exciting, and the singing just isn’t good at all. Maybe the metalheads would be awestruck at the band’s melodic skills, but I listen to people like Damien Jurado, where melody is everything.

Although choruses may not be Atreyu’s thing, the band is really good at mellow music: mad props for the two-minute mellow interlude thrown in the middle of the album. While I’m tempted to say that “An Interlude” is the best song on the album due to the fact that it has no chorus, I’m not going to do that. The best non-instrumental offering is easily “Demonology and Heartache,” in which something almost interesting happens in the chorus, and the verses display a herky-jerky, start/stop ingenuity as well as the best riff on the album. “My Sanity on the Funeral Pyre” features the same start/stop mentality, but without the whole ‘nearly interesting chorus’ part.

If nothing else, Atreyu is unique. I’ve never heard anything quite like the band, but these musicians need to settle into their niche a little more. Their choruses are bland and they feel a little too much like alt-rock. There is potential here, as no one’s actually explored this sound before, but they still need some work.