With a career spanning beyond twenty years, and a discography that now reaches its eighth album, Atreyu are back with their latest album, Baptize. With such a storied career, the band has blown off the dust and thrown itself into the wrestling pit that is the modern metalcore scene. Employing some very special guests and pouring their developed talent into a dutiful fifteen-track album, the band has done all they can to seemingly cater for the new world of metal.
However, has this immense production and over-polished grit erased the true essence of Atreyu? At its core, Baptize is a dynamic album, illustrating the power of change in its various presentations, and of course, contributes to the timeless debate of whether too much change abandons what was truly loved about a band in the past.
Beginning this album is like beginning a journey- but not merely because of the fifteen-track trek that lies ahead, but due to its dramatic and enticing beginning. ‘Strange Powers of Prophecy’ delves into an entrancing and theatrical introduction that guides the album into a realm of dramatic proportions. And dramatic it is, with a mixed bag of discoveries, sounds, and styles to uncover- certainly introducing the listener into a world unknown, but still slightly reminiscent of the past.
Within ‘Baptize’, Atreyu continues to foster some of the most prominent features of their music, creating tracks that are heavy, prominent, and seek no guidance. This feeling begins in the title track that captures strong and, at times, uncomfortable transitions that are prominent and assertive. ‘Baptize’ also introduces us to the strong dynamic between clean and unclean vocals within the album, each of which serves an integral purpose of guiding you through the track.
‘SAVE US’ is the most notable example of the band continually growing their signature metalcore elements and graduating them into the modern realm With heavy riffs, strong verses that glide into the chorus, and of course, a deep and grimy breakdown, this track offered a promising peak within its early place of the album- however, such a loved sound was not to be replicated in every track. This is not to say that the new can never intertwine with the old, with ‘Catastrophe’ proving that the two can work hand in hand to create something that is bold and timeless. Capturing verses throw you all the way into an incredible breakdown that is fierce and furious, making it a song that is sure to blow up the live scene. It is through tracks such as this that Atreyu has demonstrated the advantages of change and the ability to create something exciting by using new skills, especially when combined with past elements that the band has excelled in. Although the band shows glimpses of hope in their modernization, there is an unfortunate turn of artificiality in some of the tracks that show change can be damaging when you also choose to eradicate the individual elements that made you.
Both ‘Broken Again’ and ‘Deadweight’ are perhaps the best examples of this. Compositionally, the songs are more than enjoyable and show extreme skill to many of the members' talents that have developed over numerous years. However, it is the very level of production that perhaps removes some of the sincerity and authenticity from the songs intended to be some of the most genuine. In no way does it make these tracks bad, but it raises the question of whether this polish hinders the full potential of the emotional connection to be brought by such heavy songs. ‘Deadweight’ in particular sees emotion become theatrical, which raises the track beyond a connective proportion, instead into an anthemic level. ‘Sabotage Me’ leaves it until some of the final moments of this album to pose a stark juxtaposition to its manufactured emotional counterparts. Instead, presenting a track that feels submerged in authenticity, allowing emotion and passion to prevail. Truly, it is a dynamic track that puts its best foot forward in the realms of connection and storytelling.
One of the most prominent features within this album is the contrast and dynamics created within the songs themselves- and often in a way that carries through many of the tracks. There is no better example to demonstrate this with than the track ‘Underrated’. An incredibly heavy instrumental introduction and strong, powerful verses become overshadowed by grand choruses. On some occasions, these enormous choruses plant their seeds underneath the gritty and grimy sound many love to hear and eventually upturn them as the choruses continue to become bigger and bigger. You certainly can't talk about ‘Underrated’ without mentioning the incredibly mesmerizing breakdown that solidifies the rawness of this track. This mixture of elements makes this track so diverse in its nature, but some of the other tracks do not have this extreme breakdown period to weigh down the elevated choruses, leaving the songs to become bigger than themselves, and floating in a different direction to what their very own verses promoted.
Throughout the album, the spectacle is certainly there, with cameos from stars like Matt Heafy from Trivium, Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach, and Travis Barker- the Blink-182 drummer turned pop-punk godfather. All of these acts add their own special sparkle, and of course, demonstrate Atreyu’s collaborative capabilities with a strong feat of creativity between each of these acts!
‘Baptize’ is a mystifying journey through the unknown which will conjure up emotion within everyone- whether that be good, bad, or indifferent. If anything, this album is an impressive example of the multifaceted nature of Atreyu. Whilst striving to catch up to the metalcore scene, there were some misses and overcompensation, but when the band truly shined is when they brought their past- their own identity and sound, into the modern. In a time of renewal, Baptize teaches us not to cleanse the past, but merely resurrect it.