by Brandon Carson
I remember when I was in my early teenage years looking for metal-core bands to unleash my angsty youth, listening to A Day to Remember, Bullet for My Valentine, and of course Bring Me the Horizon. One day I was playing Guitar Hero 6 with my friend and stumbled upon a song called ‘Ravenous’ by Atreyu. The song is filled with skull-crushing guitar solos and a killer hook that drives the whole song. It feels completely unique to the genre. Eight years later the band releases ‘In Our Wake’ and all I’m left with to say is: what happened? The album is full of three-minute songs that sound exactly the same featuring boring melodic choruses and a sound that is desperately trying to stay relevant.
Atreyu became the masters of the three-minute slog with this album. The three-minute slog is a song that follows a very simple structure that can put all that the listener needs to hear in 3-4 minutes. Every song Atreyu put on this record follows the same exact song structure: intro riff to kick off the song, verse, generic melodic chorus, verse, generic melodic chorus, bridge/guitar solo/instrumental breakdown, and lastly back again one last time to the generic, melodic chorus. This specific song structure can definitely work with any artist on any album, and many artists throughout all genres have done this. However, when every single track on the record follows this structure it makes the listening experience and songs themselves predictable.
When I was listening to ‘In Our Wake’ a second time, I could precisely predict which part of the song was going to come next. This is a major problem that plagues this album. There are many albums I listen to today like Mastodon’s ‘Blood Mountain’ that constantly surprise me every time I listen due to its lack of predictability. Albums like those are the kind that keep me interested the whole way through. ‘In Our Wake’ becomes a bore by the third song due to its song structures and predictability.
If the lyrics were interesting or telling a story, then that would make the three-minute slog more interesting to listen to. But instead, we get lyrics such as, “We break like the ocean, we rise like the tide, we drown in emotion but reach for the sky.” These lyrics have no character, no personality that makes them interesting. Unfortunately, this structure makes every song sound the same. The lyrics aren’t anything special to drive the song and sound forward. The worst part is that all of these factors make the album itself forgettable.
Not every song is like this thankfully. The ballad ‘Terrified’ changes the dynamic up when the tempo gets faster and the boring riff changes into a fast-paced adventure. But after that short moment of ecstasy, Atreyu take us back to the chorus we’ve already heard two times and brings the whole experience down. Another track that surprised me for a moment was ‘Super Hero’. The song starts off with a Devin Townshend Project-esque tone that lingers with brass instruments and chugging riff that stays put in the background.
Boring, melodic choruses
Atreyu was never a stranger to melodic choruses to get the crowd singing together. In fact, this is one of the biggest metal-core clichés that most bands have. However, Atreyu’s melodies had interesting chord progressions and guitar leads that bulked up the choruses. On ‘In Our Wake’ however, there are no interesting guitar leads or unique melodies. Most of the chorus on this record sound exactly like every other metal-core band in the business right now. Not only that, but they throw in whoa’s and oh’s that make the choruses feel even more cheap. One song that this plaques the most is ‘Safety Pin’. This track has the best chorus on the album, with an interesting melody. But right when the chorus ends, its extended by unneeded whoa’s. Each chorus on this album is bloated with open four-chord progressions, the same cymbal crashes, with generic lyrics that most metal-core bands have already said.
Desperately trying to stay relevant
Atreyu used to be in the forefront of metal-core, but now are trying to play catch up with all the other bands since their four-year hiatus. I wish that I had more to talk about with this album, and I wish I could say that this album had a different sound that changed up the dynamic of metal-core. But what Atreyu did with ‘In Our Wake’ is create more generic songs that add absolutely nothing to their discography. What these songs tell me is that this band is desperately trying to stay relevant by adding cheap melodic chorus, guitar riffs that any fan of metal core could bang their heads to and adding whoas and ohs that any casual fan of music can get behind. There will be many people who will enjoy this album for what it is; another metal-core album. But I for one expect more out of a band who has been making music for 16+ years.
Recommended if you like:
A Day to Remember
Bullet for My Valentine (2015-present)
Featured Image: Twitter
In Our Wake
‘In Our Wake’ is a disappointing album filled with generic riffs and choruses. Every song sounds the same due to a three-minute slog song structure that creates only a boring listen. If you are looking for more metal music to listen to that changes the genre and pushes the boundaries, then this isn’t it. All this album makes me want to do is go back and listen to their old songs like ‘Becoming the Bull’ and ‘Ravenous’. What Atreyu did with this album just isn’t enough.
Brandon Carson is a Journalism Major. He reviews music for Byte and also makes his own music on the side.