In 2002, a band called Atreyu exploded out of Orange County. Previously unknown to the rest of the world, the band released their stunning debut album, Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses, grabbing the attention of a wide spectrum of music fans by demolishing the barriers between rock, melodic hardcore, and metal. The band’s original, unique music hit like a lightning bolt in hard-music circles, energizing audiences and redefining the hardcore sound Southern California was known for. Atreyu hit the road, and within a year were headlining their “Bitter, Broken, Bound And Gagged” tour to sold-out rooms across North America. Critical raves poured in from publications like the Los Angeles Times, Guitar World, and Metal Maniacs, who commented, “The Southern California five-piece brings new definition to overnight success.” Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses has scanned 90,000 units and shows no signs of slowing down.
With their new album, The Curse, Atreyu have honed their personal style even more, exceeding all expectations and expanding the boundaries of metallic rock yet again.
Atreyu headed home in late-2003 to write and record their second album, The Curse. The cathartic process transformed the band. Vocalist Alex Varkatzis explains: “We were in the van for two years, and it seemed like every time we left home, there would be a crisis with someone close to us, and there was nothing we could do to help. Eventually the van becomes like an isolation chamber in which we internalized every trauma or negative experience. When we came home and starting writing the album, everything came pouring out, with the intensity of something new. It was really cleansing.”
However, the band’s torrent of honesty and emotion resulted in one casualty: bassist Chris Thomson left the band, to be replaced by Marc McKnight, an old friend of the group. Atreyu’s lineup is completed with guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miquel and drummer Brandon Saller.
“We are so fanatical when it comes to our music, that we demo-ed every song and put them in the sequence that they appear on the album before we even chose a producer,” recounts Alex. And upon choosing, GGGarth, famous for his work with bands like Rage Against The Machine, Kittie, and Testament, was chosen to produce the album because his sincerity and excitement about Atreyu outstripped any of the other candidates.
“Garth really believed in us and after he heard the demos, he really wanted to help us realize our vision,” Alex says. “When we got to the studio we were amazed. His ideas for the record were exactly the same as ours! He also has a killer studio and the technical capability to get the sound we were looking for.”
The Curse explores themes of isolation and paranoia, memory, and immortality as well as power and potency. Songs like “The Crimson explore vampiric immortality, while “The Remembrance Ballad” is a meditation on the brevity of life. “A lot has happened in the past two years, and I started realizing that I will die, and that I can’t control it, so I started thinking about my choices while I am living this life, and on trying to break everything down and build back up into a person I can be proud of,” Alex explains.
“My Sanity On The Funeral Pyre” explores the harsh battle between paranoia and peace of mind, in stark contrast with “You Eclipsed By Me,” a howling roar of determination and strength of will in the face of adversity. “Right Side Of The Bed” reigns as one of the most personal songs on the album, according to Alex. “There is so much contrast in the song,” he says. “It’s a total rock song, but the lyrics reflect pure pain for me—regret and misery aren’t usually presented in that context, but it just worked well for us.”
With The Curse, Atreyu are poised to reach a huge audience and captivate them with their genre-bending metallic rock. Their dynamic guitar assault combines brilliant single-note leads and pummeling power chords, offset by the melodic and guttural vocals. “We blend it to make a prettier dark picture,” Alex comments. Atreyu made waves in the music world with their debut, catching fans off guard with their original style, but the story is just beginning. With The Curse comes world domination.