13 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

If Atreyu’s fifth studio outing sounds angrier it’s because the Orange County quintet sought to revisit their “heavy hardcore roots” on Congregation of the Damned. Since this album plays noticeably louder and heavier than 2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor, singer Alex Varkatzas appropriately fitted darker lyrics to these songs, many of which are themed on personal subjects of self-doubt and self-loathing — but from the opening punch of “Stop! Before It’s Too Late and We’ve Destroyed It All,” it’s clear that Varkatzas is using these topics for pure catharsis rather than driving some ego vehicle. Sometimes producer Rich Costey’s mix lets the melodies overshadow the brutality (the singsong title-track, for instance) but in other moments the balance gives the ears a delightful tug-of-war as heard on the anthemic “Storm to Pass.” The album’s standout tune is “You Were The King, Now You’re Unconscious.” More hard rock than metal, it’s a call to battle that would well accompany a sword-and-sandal gladiator film. Overall, Congregation of the Damned sounds like an older sibling of 2004’s The Curse, sans the juvenile fixation with vampires.

EDITORS’ NOTES

If Atreyu’s fifth studio outing sounds angrier it’s because the Orange County quintet sought to revisit their “heavy hardcore roots” on Congregation of the Damned. Since this album plays noticeably louder and heavier than 2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor, singer Alex Varkatzas appropriately fitted darker lyrics to these songs, many of which are themed on personal subjects of self-doubt and self-loathing — but from the opening punch of “Stop! Before It’s Too Late and We’ve Destroyed It All,” it’s clear that Varkatzas is using these topics for pure catharsis rather than driving some ego vehicle. Sometimes producer Rich Costey’s mix lets the melodies overshadow the brutality (the singsong title-track, for instance) but in other moments the balance gives the ears a delightful tug-of-war as heard on the anthemic “Storm to Pass.” The album’s standout tune is “You Were The King, Now You’re Unconscious.” More hard rock than metal, it’s a call to battle that would well accompany a sword-and-sandal gladiator film. Overall, Congregation of the Damned sounds like an older sibling of 2004’s The Curse, sans the juvenile fixation with vampires.

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