Don’t get too excited—this isn’t some quick apology for that turd of an EP The Hope Of A Spark that Atreyu dropped earlier this year. No, this is actually an extension on it, the second part of a trio of releases designed to make up their next full-length which, if Atreyu’s recent efforts are to be taken into consideration, isn’t something to be positively anticipating. Hell, they only seem to have gotten worse each time since coming back in 2014, experiencing another notable dropoff following screamer Alex Varkatzas’ departure in 2020. Let’s forget Baptize that came out the year after, a wretched record that traded all of Atreyu’s past style and flash for radio-metal mush seemingly designed to seal them a place at all those American rock festivals that have the exact same lineup every year. Atreyu were rarely amazing, but pairing rock ‘n’ roll swagger with 2000s emo-tinged metalcore could at least throw out some entertaining moments. In this modern state, Atreyu seem violently ashamed of anything close to fun.
And then came The Hope Of A Spark, which was arguably even worse. It’s one thing to anchor yourself in bog-standard, radio-rock cliché because (for some reason) you’re not the only ones doing it; it’s another thing to augment it with metalcore circa 2014, and not expect to be lampooned into the sun with your “caught in the undertow” chorus in 20-fucking-23. That’s where we’re at with Atreyu at the minute, a band with legitimately nowhere to go but up. Even so, the updraft on The Moment You Find Your Flame is way too mild for the pull back that’s really needed here. This still isn’t very good, and in some similarly obvious ways that Atreyu should’ve easily outgrown by now.
Chief among them is simply how bald-faced the lack of creativity is here. This is not the calibre of a band who formed a whole 25 years ago; this is perhaps what you start out with until you finally build to something halfway decent. It’s the sound of a band fed up, not just with expectations for themselves, but with the notion that coasting isn’t good enough, and therefore choose not to entertain that. It plays into the general befuddlement around why this upcoming album was carved up into EPs in the first place, because there isn’t any evolutionary path followed among them. The Moment You Find Your Flame has no additional ideas or thematic improvements on The Hope Of A Spark; it’s just more of that, evident from the very first track Good Enough that plays to an identical overweight, overworked every other B-rate radio-rock band going.
The one point of difference in The Moment You Find Your Flame’s favour is that it actually has the chance of stumbling into something mildly okay. Gone is the ‘good’ song on here, with a bit more oomph in its pop-metal hook and a performance from Brandon Saller where his voice doesn’t sound shredded to high heaven. There mightn’t be an explicit causation between him becoming full-time frontman and Atreyu’s painful decline, but it certainly contributes. It definitely feels indicative of why such a sudden shift to this kind of rock happened, with the flashier solos on Gone and I Don’t Wanna Die intended to be the joining-up points between one era and another. In truth, that just doesn’t happen; across these four tracks, not one of them has anything close to the appeal that Atreyu used to.
In fact, the energy they give off is that of a batch of throwaways. There’s no conceivable way any kind of career advancement can expected from this, or at least not the kind that leads Atreyu into creative fulfillment. There just isn’t enough of anything here to expect that, when it all rings as so plastic and underdeveloped. The writing especially is a major culprit of that once again, recycling the reams of done-to-death themes from metalcore and radio-rock, and landing on these unwieldy, faceless monoliths in service of nothing. No one needs to hear more painfully generic swill about fighting demons on Good Enough, or standing tall in spite of haters on Immortal, coming from a band who can’t even be bothered enough to use to application on them in even the tiniest way.
And so, to extrapolate all of that out further, whatever this new Atreyu album will turn out to be is already a failure. Two thirds of it have utterly faceplanted, and the sort of miracle it’d take to turn that around would be a stretch for Jesus Himself. Even in this segmented form—a sampler, if you will, designed to highlight this leg’s best qualities—there’s nothing here. Atreyu have fully flamed out as far as being anything close to a decent band goes, and for some reason are prolonging the agony for both themselves, and anyone else still with a vested interest. At least, with the way they’re going, there’s less pressure to actually deliver when that number inevitably begins to plummet.
For fans of: Falling In Reverse, Papa Roach, Escape The Fate
‘The Moment You Find Your Flame’ by Atreyu is released on 18th August on Spinefarm Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall