When Atreyu’s Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses (Victory) was released in 2002, the band was entering a sonic journey in the prime time of the Orange County Metalcore scene. They have stayed relevant by releasing six strong full-lengths since. This year, they celebrate their 20-year anniversary with the release of their seventh album In Our Wake (Spinefarm).
Produced by Goldfinger’s John Feldman the band has approached this album like 2007’s Lead Sails and Paper Anchor (Hollywood)— experimenting with new techniques, emphasizing on the sociopolitical theme but staying true to the Hardcore, Punk Rock that rooted them.
Soaring melodies thrive in the opening, title track. ‘In Our Wake’ is interesting, nonetheless a strong opening track with a memorable hook. Brandon Saller, who hones the drums, vocals, and keys on this album goes at it vocally with Alex Varkatzas on the second track, ‘House of Gold’. The melodies triumph in this song that is reminiscent of early Atreyu and the lively beat reels you in. ‘The Time Is Now’ is an anthemic heavy track that is constructed to be a live show staple. It’s more Metal than most tracks on the album and it sets you up for ‘Nothing Will Ever Change’; the fourth track is the closest the band gets to the early 2000s Metalcore with great dynamic gritty guitars and fast drums. Their diverse techniques shine here as it tones down in the chorus and it will definitely have you headbanging.
The album takes a wrong turn with the Rap-Rock infused ‘Blind Deaf & Dumb’. It’s an unnecessary track that will be loved or loathed—most of the latter because the Nu-Metal tendencies are nothing innovative.
But that one-off track won’t distract you as they redeem themselves with the better and last half of the album. ‘Terrified’ is an electro-ballad executed very well and although a softer one, the best they have to offer this time around. The energy level goes up with ‘Safety Pin’ that brings back Atreyu to its metalcore roots while ‘No Control’ showcases heavy bass line and a distorted groove that is memorable and will be another live staple.
The breakdown in ‘Anger Left Behind’ is phenomenal. It is melodic and carries a great riff but the vocals here give it that pop-feel that makes this album memorable, but it is closer. ‘Superman’ that is the cherry on top. Featuring M.Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold and Aaron Gillespie of Underoath, the last track of the album is an impressive six-minute conclusion with a superb orchestration complete with winds.
In Our Wake takes you through a journey that showcases Atreyu through their growth as humans (lyrically) and as musicians (sonically.) The record is broken out into the first half as a heavier, aggressive side and the last half a more melodic, progressive sound but all in all a memorable record. The twenty-year journey has shaped Atreyu as the pioneers of the Metalcore scene they keep proving to be.