Today’s album review has been specially requested by Ben, one of my best friends. This week, I’m going over Atreyu’s newest release, Congregation of the Damned.
To be honest, I prefer music from the 80s-90s over what’s going on today. However, there have been several newer bands and artists that I’ve been really getting into: Owl City, Orianthi, housethegrate, and Atreyu just to name a few.
Atreyu’s previous release, Lead Sails Paper Anchors, was a good listen and well-received by the critics. Let’s find out how this new record stacks up:
I first heard Atreyu back in late 2007 when I was working at Andy’s Roadhouse and I often listened to the local heavy metal/rock radio station, 98.9 The Bear. Their breakout hit, Becoming The Bull, was played over and over and over and over again. It was great when I heard it the first couple of times, but because radio stations like to pummel listeners to the ground by replaying the same songs over and over and over and over again, Becoming The Bull got really old really quick.
Then, my bro Jon went out and bought Lead Sails Paper Anchors and I became quickly hooked to the song Falling Down. The opening drum-and-bass riff is so infectious it makes the Swine Flu look like a mild case of the sniffles.
I also found out that Dan Jacobs, one of Atreyu’s guitarists, has his own series of guitar instructional videos with Rock House. I checked out a couple of the free clips that Rock House put out on YouTube, and he’s a pretty well-schooled guitarist as well as an easy-going teacher.
The Track Breakdown
The first track, Stop! Before It’s Too Late and We’ve Destroyed It All, starts the record off strong with a Paul Gilbert-approved intro solo and goes into a throaty call to destruction.
The next song, Bleeding Is a Luxury, continues with the throat screams and makes me think of what a collaboration between Sixx AM and Avenged Sevenfold would sound like.
Congregation of the Damned, the title track of the album, gives the throaty shreiks a quick break with some great singing that doesn’t sound overdone.
Up next is Coffin Nails, a nicely-done emo-metal track. I know that emo is still regarded in the same way as goth was before the turn of the millenium, but for me, that doesn’t take away anything from a good song.
After that, it’s Black Days Begin, a Pantera-meets-Scorpions song that takes the excellent groove from both of these bands and adds a nice modern metal sound to it.
Gallows begins with a drumbeat straight outta Racer X’s Scarified and the opening guitar line is equally impressive! This has got to be my favorite track out of this album so far!
If Gallows is my favorite song on this CD, then the seventh track and the first single off this album, Storm To Pass, is an uncomfortably close second! The first vocal line in the chorus (Watching, waiting) is absolutely killer and the guitar work is noteworthy!
You Were the King, Now You’re Unconscious, the longest song on the album at 5 minutes and 8 seconds, begins with a Slayer-endorsed drum-then-pause drum line (think Raining Blood). It then goes into a sing-a-line-scream-a-line pattern that’s characteristic of today’s metal that’s carried throughout the rest of the song.
Insatiable, a hair-metal-meets-modern-metal song, is next on the disc. The vocal lines have enough CFCs in them to rip the ozone layer a new one and teaming with the crunch-and-punch guitar rhythms redefines the phrase “a world of hurt!”
Track 10 is So Wrong, another fiery modern metal track that’s also singleworthy. It starts off sounding like Iron Maiden and shifts between Staind’s quiet voice and throaty screams for the remainder of the song!
The next track, Ravenous, is a pretty straightforward thrash tune from the bowels of Hell. ‘Nuff said!
After that is Lonely, a tune reminiscent of Linkin Park and Fall Out Boy. Is this what FOB would sound like if they were a metal band? No, but it’s awful close.
Track 13 is Wait for You, which is the last of the regular tracks on this CD. It’s an approprietly-placed mellow wrap-up to the album that seems to be the oddball song in comparison to the metal onslaught from the previous 12 tracks. Is it just me or does this track remind you a little of the song Slip Out from the anime BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad?
Up next is Bravery, the first of the 3 bonus tracks. It fits in well with the other tracks with its sing-a-line-scream-a-line combo that Atreyu is so fond of.
We Are the Living Dead, the 15th track on this CD, is quite a screamer of a track! It should find a good home on metal radio stations around the globe, where it will pound listeners in the ear until they go running under their Hanna Montana blankets reciting lyrics from Jonas Brothers songs for comfort!
The 16th and final track on Congregation of the Damned is Another Night (Wishing I Wasn’t Here). It’s my favorite of the 3 bonus tracks and as a bonus track, it appropriatly bookmarks this album.
The Goodies, The Baddies & The Uglies
Looking at a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of this album in one of my Guitar World CD-ROMs, my expectations for the guitar work on this album was frightingly high! I’m happy to say that my expectations were well-met and if you dig modern metal rhythms mixed with bits of tasty 80s shred, you’ll dig it too!
One of the big gripes that I have with Congregation of the Damned is that it has the dreaded from-gut-to-throat-with-hate screams that are kissing cousins with Cookie Monster vocals in their overuse in today’s music. However, I think that Atreyu used them appropriately to accent a song instead of overwhelming it with pig roars, although some songs came close to overdoing it.
Another gripe of mine is that a lot of the rhythm tracks seem to be interchangable with other songs on this album. While some might like this kind of consistency, I however loved the interesting tidbits and then got bored listening to the same stuff played over and over and over and over again.
Despite the annoying vocal & rhythm guitar repetition and pig roars that threaten my sanity, Atreyu’s Congregation of the Damned scores big with some impressive guitar hooks and melodic vocal lines that give me a sense of hope in this generation of musicians!
6 Tracks To Give a Clicky-Click
– Stop! Before It’s Too Late and We’ve Destroyed It All
– Black Days Begin
– Storm To Pass
– Another Night (Wishing I Wasn’t Here)
P.S: Here’s the link to buy Congregation of the Damned from Amazon.