Atreyu formed in 1998 in Orange County, California, and grew out of the scene that blossomed around them. On one level, they were happy that the spotlight was on their city, on another they realized they had to do something special and unique to stand out from the pack. "Sure, we came from the OC hardcore scene," says Varkatzas. "But we never wanted to just be that. Musical ambiguity has always been our goal."
The band's 2002 debut album Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses featured the underground hits "Lipgloss And Black" and "Ain't Love Grand," which helped the group establish a strong reputation outside of the insular California club scene. Atreyu toured the album for years then followed with the scathing album, The Curse, which reached #1 on The Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart, a crushing offering that combined Atreyu's loves for blistering hardcore and punishing thrash metal. Two more years of exhaustive touring followed before the band returned to the studio to record their commercial breakthrough, A Death-Grip on Yesterday, which reached #9 on The Billboard 200 Albums Chart, #1 on The Billboard Top Independent Albums Chart and included the single "Ex's and Oh's." Atreyu supported the album with major tours, including Ozzfest.
With Death-Grip, Atreyu fulfilled their contract with indie label Victory and signed a major label deal with Hollywood Records, granting the band more promotional power than ever. Inspired by the change, Atreyu returned to the studio and wrote Lead Sails Paper Anchor, which came out exactly 17 months after A Death-Grip on Yesterday. Filled with a strong balance of tunefulness and grit, the record brought Atreyu to new audience and achieved for he band a new level of acclaim, debuting at #8 on The Billboard 200 Albums Chart, and racking up an impressive string of #1s: #1 on The Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart, #1 on The Billboard Top Hard Rock Albums Chart and #1 on The Billboard Top Alternative Albums Charts. Two hit singles from the album, "Falling Down" (#3 at Modern Rock, #4 at Active Rock and a Top 5 hit at Mainstream Rock) and "`Becoming The Bull" (a Top 5 hit at Mainstream and Active Rock) each sold over 200,000 digital copies with total digital track sales for the album over 665,000. Atreyu supported the album with more high-profile tours, including Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution and Taste of Chaos, which also featured Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine and The Family Values tour with Korn.
"Doing well with that album gave us confidence to stick to our guns," says Saller.
In other words, it was the perfect springboard to Congregation of the Damned, an album that amalgamates all of Atreyu's strengths into one explosive artistic and musical statement. There's the earnest spit of "So Wrong," with its ballad-gone-hardcore heaviness and Miguel and Jacobs euphoric guitar lines, the `70s metal bounce and uber-chorus of "Black Days," and the clarion call intro, haunting guitar harmonies and vocal exorcisms of "Congregation of The Damned."
If you thought you had Atreyu pegged, just shake the EtchaSketch in your mind and start drawing a bigger picture.