In the six years since their last album, "Congregation of the Damned", metalcore favorites ATREYU took a sabbatical from each other to devote time to family and new projects such as I AM WAR, FAKE FIGURES and HELL OR HIGHWATER. Guitarist Travis Miguel did a stint with TRAPT a couple years ago until all of the ATREYU members decided to reunite, delivering a free song to their fans at YouTube, "So Others May Live". The same song was sent out as a 1,000-copy vinyl release last year for Record Store Day with another new song on the flipside, "When the Day is Done". Gaining positive feedback as their indicator for a comeback, ATREYU went all out, leading to their sixth full-length, "Long Live".
From the first "go" uttered by Alex Varkatzas on the title track, ATREYU lets it rip with a brisk pound on the verses. They make no bones they're still a metalcore act as the breakdowns manifest and Varkatzas volleys his squelchy yelps with drummer and clean singer Brandon Saller. "Live to Labor" thereafter plants down the pedal through its popping verses. As with the opening number, the breakdown arrives at the expected spot and the choruses rain with engulfing harmony. The saving grace to the predictability of these songs is they're delivered to perfection. The ATREYU guys have worked this game so many times and played so many venues, they readily fall into rhythm and their sparkling, on-the-dime performances make up for their obviousness on the early tracks. Thankfully, ATREYU have a lot of other cards to play as "Long Live" rolls on.
The slower strokes of "I Would Kill_Lie_Die (For You)" gives ATREYU the opportunity to show off some dynamics as Marc McKnight plugs his bass with a tenacious hum and the band trails overtop with sky-high choruses. "Cut Off the Head" continues the trend of its predecessor by wielding a mid-tempo, punchy groove on the verses, even if the mounting choruses sound very little different than those on the prior tracks. To the plus, Brandon Saller hits some magnificent pitches on those choruses. The laborious breakdowns here are unnecessary, however, considering the strength of the primary riffs were enough to carry the song themselves.
Employing their own variation of QUEEN's "We Will Rock You" with their stomp and clap intro to the steady bob of "Do You Know Who Are", the song thoroughly gets away from ATREYU's own conventions. It rings loud and proud as a headstrong rock ballad. Equally surprising is the banged-up grit rawk giving "Brass Balls" a sac's load of moxy. The beat-heavy march of "Heartbeats and Flatlines" and the pumping 'core blares on "Start to Break" will most appeal to fans, especially those hoping for a return to "The Curse".
Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel remain as stellar as ever with their solos and there are scant few spots where ATREYU misses a mark. "Long Live" is super-tight and so well-executed it's worth hacking through its standards and clichés, especially when you have refreshing monotony breakers like "Do You Know Who Are" and "Brass Balls", plus the tasteful instrumental "Revival (Interlude)". Repetitious as they can be, ATREYU sound terrific inside their element (and even the moments where they branch out) and "Long Live" will be worth the wait for those who'd thought this band, one of metalcore's hottest commodities a decade ago, had burned themselves out for good.