I remember "Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses" had that sticker on the packaging that proclaimed Atreyu to be the perfect voice of metalcore or something like that. I still think that album is one of the better that the genre has seen, and so the new Atreyu album has been one of the ones I was more excited about hearing this year.
"The Curse" is still the same Atreyu sound, but it almost seems that the band is going through an identity crisis of sorts. The album opens with a rather standard creepy organ, whispering voices, etc intro, which would seem useless except for it explodes directly into the first song, "Bleeding Mascara." It has one of the best introductions into any song ever with a lovely scream, metal-tinged guitars and double bass pounding away. So as I sat there violently head banging away, I noticed that by the time the song was coming towards the end, I had not ceased my head banging. This is where the first portion of their identity crisis comes in, because in this song, Atreyu has seemingly tossed out the "core" of the genre and gone straight with metal. Now, in "Bleeding Mascara", the chorus is nice and melodic, but that is it. The rest of it has an In Flames, much slower The Haunted, and other Swedish metal influences. A lot of the other songs follow this incredible metal beatdown. "Corseting" is not something you can do anything but head bang to until your head rolls off. The screams echo throughout heavy riffs and double bass. It seems at parts like these songs that Atreyu went to Sweden to join the ranks of the agro-metal community.
Other songs on the album essentially leave the "metal" out of the genre and gone straight with…core??? "The Remembrance Ballad" is one that I have heard people say is one of their favorite songs on the album and how much it reminds them of Avenged Sevenfold. I for one think that it does not fit on the album very well at all. First off, it is a ballad thrown right in the middle of the album, and so after all the violent head banging mentioned above, suddenly I was presented with a song so slow that after four and half minutes of it I was practically asleep. This song is a power ballad in all ways possible, and although the song itself isn't really that bad, I would better appreciate it as a secret track or an unreleased track for a future compilation.
"This Flesh is a Tomb" follows in the footsteps of "The Remembrance Ballad" in the sense of melody, but is hardly a ballad in the sense. It is melodically soaked through, and although it still has the complex guitar riffs and all, it lacks as much of the metal punch that the other songs have. One of the better aspects of "The Curse" compared to "Suicide Notes…" is the vocals. The screaming/growling is much improved, and the harmony between the singing and the not-so-singing vocals is employed much more often and in a better fashion than they did before.
Although it is a very solid effort by the band, my one big problem is that the metal songs and the lesser-metal songs are much too distinct. I thought the greatest part about "Suicide Notes…" was how balanced Atreyu had been able to combine metal and melody. But on "The Curse", it seems that they either lost that ability or just plain didn't want it. They seem to be evolving more towards metal at some points, and at other points, there is an almost a complete void of metal influences. A few songs like "You Eclipsed By Me" seem to have that balance right like their older albums did.
"The Curse" is far from being a bad album. In fact, it is one of the better albums to come out this year, but I was expecting a little bit more from the boys of Atreyu. The sheer ferocity of their metal-tinged songs is now what I remember them for on this album, rather than the serenity of their melodies from "Suicide Notes..." I would call it an evolution of the band, but they are not consistent enough for it to be a full evolution. Still, with that, this album is a must own for fans of the band and also for fans of the genre. Atreyu has still shown that metalcore can be awesome.