Album Review: ATREYU, Baptize (Spinefarm Records)

As far back as 2006’s A Deathgrip On Yesterday, Atreyu has never been afraid to challenge the status quo of modern metal. As fellow 2000s metalcore bands, such as Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage, and All That Remains began to think beyond club shows and produced content fit for stadiums, so too did the Orange County based quintet. 

In the fall of 2020, the departure of founding member and vocalist Alex Varkatzas shocked the rock and metal world. One month later, it was announced that drummer/clean vocalist Brandon Saller would be stepping out from behind the kit (replaced by new blood Kyle Rosa) to take on vocal duties full time. Harsh vocals once performed by Varkatzas would be taken over by bassist Marc Porter McKnight, who has provided supporting screams since the Deathgrip days. 

Rounded out by the head spinning riffs and licks of guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, Atreyu begins the next chapter of their career with perhaps their finest crafted album to date: Baptize

Baptize captures the energy and excitement from classic Atreyu songs, such as “Ex’s and Oh’s”, “Right Side of the Bed,” and “Becoming the Bull” and takes it to new heights. Kicking off with the title track, eerie synths give way to pounding drums and fist pumping guitar riffs. This is quickly followed by the anthemic “Save Us” and the punishing “Underrated,” perhaps one of the band’s most aggressive tracks to date. 

Taking a foot off the gas, “Dead Weight” showcases Saller’s range and control as a vocalist. We hear this again, alongside some incredible falsetto performances, in “Stay” later on in the album. Yet, as the mournful orchestration of “Dead Weight” finishes up, the album dives right back into mosh worthy territory akin to Parkway Drive with “Catastrophe”.

Already their own all-star cast, Atreyu raises the bar by bringing in some special guests in the later tracks of the album. Papa Roach vocalist Jacoby Shaddix supports Saller in “Untouchable” while Matt Heafy of Trivium appears on “Oblivion”, both bringing their iconic voices to the table…er…recording booth. As one of the first tracks released off Baptize, “Warrior” brings the album to a close with more lyrics to sing along to in the car or at the concert, and features an infectious drumline provided by none other than Blink-182 skinsman, Travis Barker. 

Bottom Line: 

Having been a fan since Ozzfest 2004 and The Curse, it was reassuring to know that the new frontman would be someone fans have known since day one and who would have the same love of and commitment to the band as Varkatzas did for so many years. As the voice behind most of Atreyu’s catalog of iconic choruses, Saller really shines this time and is the perfect choice to take the band to the next level.

With Baptize, it feels like that time has come for Atreyu to graduate to arena tours with bands such Breaking Benjamin, In This Moment, and Halestorm. After a set of new material, it would be amazing to hear a packed stadium chanting the closing lyrics of  “Lip Gloss & Black”. 

Live. Love. Burn. Die. Baptize. Visit your favorite local record store and pick up a copy, out June 4 from Spinefarm.

Review copy courtesy of Freeman Promotions. All opinions are our own.

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