Written by: PP on 28/08/2021 01:53:09

Atreyu camp is buzzing as of late. This magazine dumped them to the 'washed up rockstars' basket, thanks to a decade of largely pointless albums between 2006-2015. Then the band reinvented themselves as a Papa Roach / Five Finger Death Punch style arena rock band with brilliant songs on 2018's "In Our Wake" that caught just about everyone by huge surprise by being an incredibly solid album all-around, rammed with massive sing alongs, giant riffs, and memorable content throughout. Who would've thought?

Yet the band's founding member and lead vocalist Alex Varkatzas departed in amicable terms last year reportedly due to wishing to try something different after more than 22 years of Atreyu ranging from pioneering metalcore records like "Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses" and "The Curse" to cheesy hard rock on "Lead Sails Paper Anchor". Fair enough, the band has more than enough capable people to take over, given drummer Brandon Saller has been doing clean vocals throughout their existence, so he's been given the spotlight on lead vocals. At the same time, bassist Marc McKnight has taken over the screams, and the result is... literally indistinguishable from "In Our Wake" on eight album "Baptize". I kid you not - because of Saller's high-flying cleans being so dominant on the soundscape, you'd be easily forgiven if you didn't even notice something changed.

The most noticeable change is in fact in the screams, where Saller is arguably a better and thicker screamer than Alex ever was. He's now been given the chance to deliver: an aggressive track like "Underrated" as well as the theatrical "Catastrophe" underline that perhaps he should've been on the screams altogether, save for the first two albums. Similarly, "Dead Weight" has an enormous chours with plenty arena-rock references to Papa Roach and co, and "Broken Again" is henceforth otherwise known as: Ivan Moody, is that you?

With guest cameos from Jacoby Shaddix ("Untouchable"), Matt Heafy ("Oblivion") and Travis Barker ("Warrior"), it's clear a lot of effort has been put into masking that a founding member has departed the band. That said, if you liked "In Your Wake", "Baptize" is effectively its spiritual successor: massive arena rock songs with echoing choruses, designed for the biggest stages out there. This is exactly how Five Finger Death Punch went from The Rock to playing Tap 1 and later Royal Arena. Now, I'm not saying Atreyu will do that this late in their career, but it's great to see that the vast majority of "Baptize" features solid songwriting and radio-friendly, mainstream hard rock material that should push the band to the next stage, really. It's theatrical, but not overtly pompous, thanks to contrasting screams that prevent and over-inflated expression overall.

Yet at 15 tracks the record feels a tad long, and certainly less immediately impressive as "In Your Wake" was three years ago. Nevertheless, "Baptize" is once again a demonstration that if you had written off Atreyu years ago, it might be time to give the band a new chance.


Download: Broken Again, Dead Weight, Catastrophe, Underrated
For the fans of: Papa Roach, Five Finger Death Punch, Bullet For My Valentine
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.06.2021
Spinefarm Records

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