It has been a rather interesting past few years for the American Metal band Atreyu. Keeping everything moving forward after their return from hiatus in 2014, they released Long Live in 2015 and In Our Wake in 2018. Both solid albums as part of their second chapter, in 2020 Alex Varkatzas departed, leaving them without him on vocals for the first time since the start of the band. A sad development for fans, the remainder of Atreyu – Guitarist Dan Jacobs, Vocalist/Keyboardist Brandon Saller, Guitarist Travis Miguel, Bassist
Marc “Porter” McKnight, along with newer Drummer Kyle Rosa – rebounded nicely with 2021’s Baptize, but in 2023, they approached everything a bit differently.
Looking to spark interest in a unique fashion, instead of releasing a full-length album in one shot, they slowly put out EPs throughout the year. A good way to approach things in this fragmented streaming music world, the first EP, The Hope of a Spark arrived on April 17th, while second, The Moment You Find Your Flame on August 18th, before the final, A Touch In The Dark arrived on November 3rd. Split into 3 parts, the series of EPs offered fans something for all seasons with their thoughtful content and spacing.
This all-in mind, if you are someone who enjoys the construct of a full-length record, the 3 EPs join forces on The Beautiful Dark Of Life. Set for release on December 8th through Spinefarm Records, the album consists of the 12 tracks featured on the EPs, but also include 3 new tracks never heard prior – “Dancing With My Demons,” “Insomnia,” and the title-track.
Fifteen songs in total, interestingly, the track listing is shuffled differently than the EP releases… making the listening experience a bit different. That in mind, the mood of each song still stands strong even in a different variation. As for the EPs separately, each had something special to offer. This includes the hopeless feeling of The Hope Of A Spark, the moments of finding a light at the end of the tunnel with The Moment You Find Your Flame, before finding your true self on A Torch In The Dark.
Now a part of what is considered Atreyu’s 9th overall studio album, looking at it as a complete entity, some highlights include “Drowning” where you are brought in by a fast-paced tempo with a lulling voice filled with angst. This is while you also have “Insomnia” which has a more suspenseful fun beat sound paired with Brandon Saller’s vocals. The latter of these two examples gives a more fast-paced mid-song portraying the true lyrical skill of Saller, all while he switching off vocals with McKnight for that perfect Hardcore Metal sound.
Additionally, “Watch Me Burn” is definitely a lot heavier, along the lines of a classic Atreyu style, but amidst a very empowering hymn. Then, a much gentler moment comes with “I Don’t Wanna Die.” Switches things up, Saller’s soft vocals lull you in while the guitar work keeps you there. And then there is also “Immortal” with a very catchy and steady tempo featuring Saller singing clearly at full pitch with a mid-break quote euphoric ultimately leading us to Porter’s screams… and it is just divine. Beyond these, the new songs also strike interest, with “Insomnia” dressed in drama, “Dancing With My Demons” offering more heart-wrenching soul searching, and the title-track giving you some more thought-provoking lyrics about life.
Overall, The Beautiful Dark Of Life brings you the classic sound of Atreyu but with further progression. Very deep, it is about the darkness, but finding beauty in it and transforming that into strength. Superseding all expectations, every song brings a different sound making this album so unique in its entirety. That is why Cryptic Rock gives The Beautiful Dark Of Life 4.5 out of 5 stars.