Release DetailsLABEL Victory
RELEASED ON 6/29/2004
posted on 6/2004 By:
You may or may not remember, or care for that matter. But not too long ago, metalcore was a genre you could get excited about. Before the “scene” became infested with wannabes and shameless hacks, there was actually a strong stable of bands whose music bled with a sense of urgency that seemed to be lacking in a lot of metal. Atreyu was not one of those bands, but they hung around well enough. Their Victory Records debut Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses was a competitive piece of melodic metalcore. I’m not ashamed to admit that I gave that album a considerable amount of rotation, despite its somewhat limp wristed production and unabashedly sappy lyrics. Regardless of all its flaws, its intentions were sincere. And that sincerity finds a way to the surface almost every time.
A lot has changed in the year and a half since the release of Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses. Metalcore’s rise to prominence in the States has led to a nearly complete homogenization of the entire genre. And while this may have spawned a few quality releases, the excitement is almost entirely gone. Unfortunately, Atreyu’s latest release, The Curse does very little to restore my enthusiasm. All the pieces for a “solid” album are there. The production is crisp. The musicianship is tight, and in many cases, superior to Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses. Even Vocalist Alex Varkatzas seems to have sharpened his once almost unbearable vocal approach. It’s all very well done. So what’s the problem? Well, the problem is I can’t walk into Newbury Comics and throw a rock without hitting another album that will affect me in the exact same way as The Curse. Too many times the streamlined approach on this album comes at the expense of the band’s dynamic songwriting and memorable riffing. Many of the tracks are either directly derivative of ideas that have been done to death long ago, or too afraid of their own potential to make any significant imprint on the listener. As a result of their attempts to make a “proper” metalcore album Atreyu essentially corners themselves into producing an extremely forgettable piece of music.
That’s not to say that The Curse isn’t without fair share of moments. The album’s opener “Bleeding Mascara” features some impressive melodic lead work. The band’s trademark clean vocals, delivered expertly by drummer Brandon Saller, sound great. “My Sanity on The Funeral Pyre” is probably the album’s strongest, as it displays the band abandoning the album’s predominant verse-chorus-verse pattern and instead embracing their capabilities rather than shunning them in favor of simplistic song structures. It also features one hell of a simple yet effective guitar solo.
The Curse is by no means a bad album. Fans of modern metalcore will be hard pressed to find a more successful execution of this musical formula. In the end, however, The Curse is little more than just that. It’s well played, but it's stifled. The band is too aware of the rules by which they play and it results in songs that lack character or any sort of replay value. Atreyu has the talent to write another great album. They just need to throw the rulebook to the wind and embrace what they are truly capable of when they chose to play by their own rules.
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