Atreyu‘s first full-length album in six years, Long Live, blends the band’s beloved signature sound with an almost classic metal vibe. While songs like “Start To Break” and “Heartbeats and Flatlines” echo the Atreyu of 2004’s The Curse, tracks like “Do You Know Who You Are?” offer a bigger break between then and now. The question is, is the change in sound worthwhile or a little too jarring?
The answer: a bit of both. Long Live definitely sounds like a more grown up Atreyu. Screaming is still a very present element on this record, but it’s clear the band give clean vocals and starker melodies a leg up. The soloing found on songs like “Live To Labor” and “Start To Break” are much needed moments of ornamentation on an album that sometimes becomes too bare, and “Revival” is a lovely palette cleanser in between all the heaviness. However, “Do You Know Who You Are,” though an intriguing deviation in song structure, is like “I Would Kill/Lie/Die (For You)” in that it gets somewhat boring after a while. As so often occurs with bands who have been around for years and aim to evolve, their maturity gets in the way of some of the more unrestrained elements that made releases like 2002’s Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses so exciting.
Where Atreyu is perhaps most successful is with the dark and enchanting “Moments Before Dawn.” It begins with a few twinkling and hypnotic notes taken from, as the bassist explains in the track commentary, Marc McKnight’s niece’s music box. The band builds off of these childish notes, using them as a guiding leitmotif that haunts the track. A beautiful example of how inspiration can come from the most unlikely sources, “Moments Before Dawn” gives Long Live a unique, albeit odd dimension that would otherwise be lacking on the record.
Atreyu may still have a bit of soul-searching to do, but Long Live absolutely has its merits.