Atreyu – The Hope of a Spark (EP Review)

The Hope of a Spark EP—which arrived on April 14, 2023, thanks to Spinefarm Records—was brilliantly introduced by its two single/genius videos, “Drowning” and “Watch Me Burn.” Each bookends the overarching theme of the release, from asphyxiating in the noise to rebirth via self-immolation, two sides of a collective coin that shows Atreyu still succeeding after 25 years in the biz.

This is a band that has never required a luck dragon named Falkor to triumph in their niche within the Metalcore genre. Pioneers of the early 2000’s Orange County Metalcore scene, the quintet’s sonic mettle is displayed throughout their catalog, from 2002’s scene-stealing Suicide Notes & Butterfly Kisses to 2021’s Baptize, their first without Alex Varkatzas. The latter, too, marked a major shift within the Atreyu camp. As far as the players were concerned, this period saw Drummer/Vocalist Brandon Saller stepping out front, while a new kid on the block, Kyle Rosa, was introduced on drums. Bassist Porter McKnight, too, increased his vocal contributions to adeptly occupy the “unclean” vocal vacancy.

For Atreyu—rounded out by the talented guitar attack of Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel—Baptize was the very first baby steps and vodka sips taken after a major breakup. Its successor, The Hope of a Spark, is the bold proclamation that comes with self-certainty, with rediscovering one’s self-worth. It is the depression, anxiety, fear, and faith of the past few years bundled into four powerful tracks.

Once again working alongside longtime collaborator and friend, the multi-Grammy Award-nominated John Feldmann (Good Charlotte, Black Veil Brides), Atreyu is careful to provide its listeners with a multitude of sonic approaches. From the EP’s lead-off single, the aforementioned “Drowning,” with its signature, soaring melodies to the electronics that blanket “God Devil,” The Hope of a Spark is careful to shoot down any thoughts of a one-trick pony.

It is, too, a lyrical journey through the emotional cacophony of the past few years to the spark of hope that is its conclusion, “Watch Me Burn,” a fight to the death to take back your own life. Sonically, the collection’s red-headed stepchild can be found in “God Devil,” which sucker punches the chest in preparation for the evil stepdaddy “Capital F.” A dense wall of sound that doesn’t waste a second in getting to the heart of its sermon—Is it just me or are we all capital F fucked?—the track is a brilliant embodiment of the hilarious cognizance that bleeds through everything Atreyu touches.

‘In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions,’ Atreyu’s latest EP is a celebration—for the band, one of brotherhood and persistence; for the listener, a reminder that we are stronger in our struggles. But above these things, it serves as a promise that these Californians have no intention of failing to melt our ears off! (You’ve seen the “Watch Me Burn” vid, right?) For this, Cryptic Rock gives The Hope of a Spark EP 5 out of 5 stars.

Atreyu – The Hope of a Spark EP / Spinefarm Records (2023)

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