Atreyu – ‘The Hope Of A Spark’

By Ian Kenworthy

Everything changes. Over the last 25 years, Atreyu have grown, split-up, reformed and evolved, putting out some great records along the way. ‘The Hope Of A Spark’ is four brand new songs, each no-nonsense and hard-hitting. It’s brief, to the point and just a little bit weird, so raise your metal horns and get ready to rock.

For the unaware, Atreyu have roots in metalcore, mixing aggressive vocals with big choruses and metal-style riffs, and while that’s still technically true, their sound is also now a crossbreed of arena rock. These days, they’re as much Motley Crue as All That Remains, and you can’t fail to recognise their music. On this EP, there’s a whiff of industrial metal and while it’s doesn’t compromise their sound, it’s enough to feel different and highly welcome.

To understand Atreyu you need acknowledge the truth; they sold their soul to John Feldman on 2007’s ‘Lead Sails Paper Anchor’. He’s the producer who set them down the bolder, more mainstream path and, after reuniting with him for 2018’s wild ‘In Our Wake’, clean singer Brandon Saller took over as frontman allowing them to embrace an overt campness. Their music is now big, fun and works so well because Feldman has a knack of splicing together different song elements without losing coherence or a nicely gritty edge.

The leading single ‘Watch Me Burn’ is much how you’d expect a big Atreyu single to sound, recalling their hit ‘Our Time Is Now’ in the way its huge chorus works. It’s the least adventurous song of the four, but it’s a big, solid addition to their oeuvre. In fact, while none of this is unexpected, it does feel surprisingly fresh. Notably, the industrial elements on ‘God/Devil’ feel daring, especially as they’re enhanced by scathing screams and unsettling vocals from bassist Marc McKnight.

If you’ve listened to other bands Feldman worked with like the Used or D.R.U.G.S., you’ll understand how his song construction works; cut the songs into sections and slot them together without breaking the songs entirely. Consequentially, each of these four has a similar structure; electronic verses, big guitar chords in the choruses and a huge breakdown. Yet they flow and contort in interesting ways, especially as slick riffs and solos are scattered throughout, meaning each is distinctive and powerful.

Notably ‘Capital F’ features a big, heavy breakdown that gets progressively heavier until you feel like you’ve been crushed by a steamroller. In contrast, ‘Drowning’ leans harder on electronics with just a few slick riffs thrown in. You could argue that it loses its momentum by retreating to a slow part one too many times, but there’s another crushing breakdown waiting in the wings, so it doesn’t leave you wanting. None of these songs do.

‘The Hope Of A Spark’ is an EP for the playlisting age; four back-to-back bangers with little connective tissue. Atreyu’s trademark choruses, hard-hitting riffs and gentle industrial experimentation make a hit. Play it loud.


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