Following a critically and commercially successful album is no small feat for any band. For Atreyu, who’s fourth full-length, Lead Sails Paper Anchor, sold over 315,000 copies in the US alone, the task was even more daunting. That album marked a substantial shift for the group, expressing an explosively commercial and alternative side of Atreyu that had been largely unexplored. With their new album, CONGREGATION OF THE DAMNED, the members wanted to continue to develop musically, but at the same time return to more of the aggression and firepower they exhibited growing up in the hardcore metal-based scene of Orange County, California.
With a crumbling economy, environmental calamity and international strife as a backdrop, Atreyu — Alex Varkatzas, guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, bassist Marc McKnight and drummer Brandon Saller – were able to write some of their strongest, most salient songs to date. CONGREGATION OF THE DAMNED, produced by Bob Marlette (Airborne, Ozzy Osbourne), mixed by Rich Costey (Mars Volta, System of A Down, Rage Against the Machine) with select tracks mixed by Noah Shain (Endless Hallway, Sonny),” comes out October 27, and is simultaneously crushing, exultant and unapologetic, delving further into Atreyu’s quest for the perfect melody while satisfying their taste for street-lethal riffs and ear-piercing solos.
Throughout the 13 songs on CONGREGATION OF THE DAMNED, Atreyu cover a variety of ground, including inflammatory and technical hardcore (“Stop! Before It’s Too Late and We’ve Destroyed it All”), raging and anthemic metal (“Carried Away”), and brutally cinematic rock (“You Were the King Now You’re Unconscious”). At the same time, they make passing nods to the music they grew up on and still love, including Black Flag, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motley Crue.
While there is no shortage of euphoric sing-along melodies, the songs are more ferocious than anything since 2004’s The Curse. The subject matter is equally intense. “The music is heavier and so I was able to write darker lyrics,” explains vocalist Alex Varkatzas. “There’s personal shit on there: self-doubt, self-loathing. Bands who sing about happy things have their place, and I’m not singing about dark things to promote them, I’m singing about them so I don’t go insane. It’s pure catharsis. I make music so I don’t go crazy.”
Varkatzas finds himself in that darker territory with “Storm To Pass,” a song that has double meaning: the storm as depression, and the storms of war: “You can feel that depression coming on, you can see yourself doing fucked up things but you can’t stop it,” says Varktazas. “I grew up watching the first Iraq war and the invasion of various countries and how the whole thing became one giant shit storm.”
The full track listing for CONGREGATION OF THE DAMNED is as follows:
1. "Stop! Before It’s Too Late and We’ve Destroyed It All"
2. "Bleeding Is a Luxury"
3. "Carried Away"
4. "Coffin Nails"
5. "Black Days Begin"
7. "Storm to Pass"
8. "You Were King Now You’re Unconscious"
10. "So Wrong"
13. "Wait for You"
In support of the album, every two weeks leading up to the October 23rd release, Atreyu will debut a webisode documenting not only their thoughts on the new record, but they will also take a look back at where the band’s career has taken them over the course of the last 10 years. The first webisode is available now here .
The second installment will debut on September 9. A new webisode will post every two weeks with the final one posting on October 20th.