“Baptize” is the 8th album released in June from metalcore stalwarts Atreyu produced by John Feldmann (Goldfinger). With the departure of the original lead singer, Alex Varkatzas, the band have in a Genesis-like moment brought the drummer to the fore to brandish the mic for the first time.
The band consists of Brandon Saller (vocals), San Jacobs (lead guitar), Travis Miguel (rhythm guitar), Mark McKnight (bass, backing vocals), and Kyle Rosa (drums).
When a band takes on a new vocalist there will always be a shift in the momentum of the band. Inspirations and style will inevitably change giving the band a new characteristic that will present fans with a fork in the road. In this case, the departed vocalist helped write many of the songs on the album with song credits given on “Baptize”, “Save Us”, “Broken again”, “Dead weight”, “Fucked up”, “Sabotage me”, “Untouchable”, “No matter what”, “Oblivion”, “Stay”, and “Warrior”. So what fans and critics, and even Alex may have to say there is inspiration from the previous singer on the album. How the band interpreted these ideas is something the band will only know.
Brandon’s vocals are smooth and clear but lack the aggression that Atreyu perhaps once carried. The style becomes easier to listen to and doesn’t have the kick-ass punch that made you want to thrash around. Perhaps in “Underrated” and “Weed” there are elements of telephone book shreds but overall the album has a more commercial radio-friendly sound now.
They drew some big names on this with Travis Barker (blink-182), Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach), and Matt Heafy (Trivium) to enhance the band’s cred. While they provide their experience and influence on the songs that songs continue in the same direction with some parts of the contributing artists present.
Most of the songs appear to focus on more of a new metalcore direction that focuses on more vocals and less on the music being a focus. The band are there is support the vocalist. The use of synthetic sounds alongside grinding guitars gives is a hardcore sound that is much easier to tolerate than if the bpm were higher and the music more intense.
One thing that can be quite irritating is when the band focuses on the name of the song and repeats it throughout the song. Variations of lyrics or musical interludes are appealing than the same lyrics sung a different way.
“Underrated” comes in as one of the harder songs on the album with a good show of all the vocalists. “Warrior” brings some Travis Barker flare with the drums in the interlude. “Stay” is an attempt at creating a ballad of some kind with heartfelt emotion linked to anguish. I felt the guitar solo on this song didn’t work and it all seemed to be put together to try to create something more than it ended up becoming.
I feel that the band has made a decision to come out trying to test the waters with both the inspiration of one singer and the capabilities of the next. Perhaps this leads to some discussion in the band about what they should do and decided to simplify things instead. It is a baptism of a new singer but takes them in a new direction that will take on new fans and lose old ones.
- Strange powers of prophecy
- Save Us
- Broken again
- Dead weight
- Fucked up
- Sabotage me
- No matter what
Release Year: 2021
Reviewed by Byron Lotz