Atreyu have always been counted among metalcore favourites since their formation in 1998. In the six years since their last album, the band’s hiatus to tend to other projects left fans in fear of whether or not they would actually return. Those fears have now been eased as Atreyu finally return with their new album, the fittingly titled ‘Long Live.’ Fans have been waiting over half a decade for this album. All the remains to be seen is; was it worth the wait? Initially we are presented with two back-to-back Atreyu standards. Opening track and debut single “Long Live” spares little time in preparing the listener for what is to come. Brutal verses, anthemic choruses and dual vocals spread over signature guitar sounds and solos deliver a strong reminder as to what this band were, and seemingly are, still all about. This is followed by “Live to Labor” which, yes, follows the same formula as the previous track, but does an even better job of it.
“I Would Kill/Lie/Die For You” changes pace with a slower, more riff-focused groove track. Though a welcome change and new to the ear in comparison, it doesn’t deliver as strong as the album openers. Even with the rather more emotional choruses filled out with harmony, it still struggles to pack the same punch. However, all is quickly forgiven as “Cut Off The Head” punches through with another mid-tempo groove riff. At this point, it seems like an album of tracks where each song responds to its predecessor.
It could be difficult for some to find comfort in calling the next track a ballad, but in context to the rest of the album, “A Bitter Broken Memory” does serve as the album’s proud ballad. Atreyu shine here as they move away from their regular domain and conventions with flying colours, making this an album stand-out by any standards. What follows stands out as well, but for all the wrong reasons. “Do You Know Who You Are” which also serves as the latest single is, quite frankly, the album’s ultimate low point. Too simply reminiscent of Queens’ “We Will Rock You” brought into contemporary metalcore, and featuring the Beastie Boys rapping (badly) over the verses with a questionable chorus at best, little can be praised here. If anything, “Revival (Interlude)” should have been the only piece of music to fill the gap at this point in the album. Not only is it a brief yet well thought-out piece of music, it is beautifully played on Spanish guitar and serves as the perfect breath of fresh air.
We return to old, fan favorite traits with “Heartbeats and Flat-lines” and “Brass Balls.” Also, theattle-march drums in “Heartbeats” filled out with lulling bridges that clear the way for big solos and bigger choruses only to follow through into the next track again; and, as is often the case on ‘Long Live’, doing even better than the last. Maturity shows here as the band raise their songwriting efforts in “Moments Before Dawn” particularly lyrically. Here, toward the end of the album, Atreyu seem to give us a glimpse of something new they may have to offer and, for the most part, it really works! Although, with its verses reminiscent of Avenged Sevenfold, they’re not doing anyone any favours, not even Avenged Sevenfold. “Start To Break” brings us back to familiar territory once again, and could be featured on any and all of their previous albums. But that is not to say it is not a good track. On the contrary, it is another standout. It is Atreyu at their familiar best, and will undoubtedly make for a great crowd-pleaser! Final track “Reckless” opens with what feels like the makings of a great album closer, but unfortunately steers itself completely away from that direction. Instead, the albums just ends with no real memorability to it.
‘Long Live’ is a mixed back of tricks and treats. At times, you are presented with some of the best work this band has produced. In places there’s a sense of a new direction, in others of standing by familiar territory, and then there are times when it simply doesn’t work. Six years since the band’s last release, Atreyu might have had every reason to be excited to rush back into the studio together and hit the road running. But in this instance, maybe running and rushing caused the album to suffer in parts. However, at its best, ‘Long Live’ is a great fist-in-face, drink-in-hand album as well as an admirable return in several places for one of metalcore’s finest.