Atreyu "Lead Sails Paper Anchor" Review

Originally in The Oklahoma Daily on August 27th, 2007.

Back in 2002, “metalcore” was still fairly undiscovered by the masses. It blended the massive, soaring choruses of traditional metal with the guttural screams and breakdowns of hardcore.

One of the leader’s of the movement was Orange County band Atreyu. Their debut “Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses” helped define the genre. Now, in 2007, “metalcore” is essentially a joke. It’s oversaturated, and thanks to Hot Topic, totally trendy. And with “Lead Sails Paper Anchor,” Atreyu is still defining the genre.

To see just how much Atreyu has changed in the past five years, look no further than the bands they are touring with. In 2002, they toured with bands such as Darkest Hour and God Forbid, now they are touring with Evanescence and Korn.

“Lead Sails Paper Anchor” is Atreyu’s first album on a major label, and it shows. They followed the “sell out and get rich” form of record making almost exactly. The album begins with “Doomsday” and “Honor,” which aren’t really bad, but certainly aren’t good either. They are simply bland metal songs.

Then comes “Falling Down,” which features an over-abundance of gang-vocals, boring solos, and horns (!), not even to mention the comically bad lyrics. The fourth track is the lead single “Becoming the Bull” which is currently all over mainstream rock radio. This song really showcases how much Atreyu have changed their sound. The screams are nearly non-existent and it sounds like any number of modern rock bands currently on the radio. Throughout the rest of the album, Atreyu fulfill nearly all the rock radio clichés, including the infamous power ballad.

The second half of the record is obviously just filler, and the only song that stands out at all is “Blow,” which seems heavily influenced by late-80’s hair metal, and is a direct shot at critics and the many negative reviews the band gets (like this one). The song is over-the-top and ridiculous, but in a good way. If the band had focused more on this element of their sound instead trying to be a more metal Three Days Grace, they might have had something.

These songs are just heavy enough to let the 14 year old think he is edgy and underground, but catchy and poppy enough to get that 14 year old into them in the first place. In other words, it’s going to sell a ton of copies.