Atreyu // Survivalist // We Want Your Skulls World Tour // Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast
So normally all these reviews are a build-up to raving about a band’s live performance and you have to suffer my ramblings about the night’s events before you get to the crescendo! Not tonight sister as I am laying it out all out right here, right now, this gig (unexpectedly) was one of the contenders for gig of the year for me! The arrival of Atreyu in Belfast has only taken 25 years! Vocalist Brandon Saller had commented many a time over the evening about this being both their 25-year anniversary as a band and how they made a massive mistake not bringing their asses to Ireland before now. Belfast agreed.
But before we get onto tonight’s festivities lets break down the evening in general, When Atreyu was announced there was mucho excitement in the local Metal community, and the Limelight II was packed to the rafters on Monday night to welcome Californ-i-a’s majestic metallers to our little city. Tonight in tow, Belfast’s Metalcore giants Survivalist are taking charge of the rowdy Belfast massive and warming them up on this cool autumn evening.
7:30 comes around and Survivalist hits the stage, at first it takes me a wee minute to get my bearings, minus 1 guitarist in Thomas Marshall and I can’t see a drummer, hidden in the shadows I eventually catch sight of him, the poor child! So shizzle kicks off and right away the heads start bopping and stank faces can be seen far and wide as the gnarly riffs come fast and heavy, hefty breakdowns pummel the chest as the bass and drums reverberate across the room, Gav’s strong vocals and guttural growls hit home and drive the hard-hitting aggression in the songwriting and the crowd responds in kind. Bodies start flying across the room, one dude in a wheelchair places himself in the middle of the floor and a circle pit kicks off around him, he’s buzzing and before you know it he has to reverse his ass against the wall as the moshing kicks into full gear and one or two people end u in his lap, fair play. The guys as always deliver, a man down, the sound is as thick as Ron Jeremy’s slong and Belfast has truly had its wake-up call for this evening’s proceedings, step up or step the fuck out!
Time to catch a breather as the stage was cleared and prepped for the mighty Atreyu, now, I didn’t quite know what to expect tonight, I love catching a band live for the very first time and experiencing them as a live entity right there and then and getting the full force of what a band is in the raw. So when the set kicks off immediately I am struck by the melodic quality of this band, by the soaring vocals of Brandon Saller are breathtaking live, with the other band members all on the mic’s backing up with huge vocal melodies, harmonies, and massive guttural growls from both Brandon and bassist Marc ‘Porter’ McKnight, these guys are electric on stage! I have not seen a band have so much fun up there in quite a while and clearly, after 25 years as a band on the road and in the studio these guys are so fluid and take it all in their stride whilst delivering a blistering live performance that most bands could only dream of. The connection between band members and the audience is right there to see, every band member taking time while playing to acknowledge the people on the ground through fist bumps, banter and calling them out for their audacious behaviour throughout the night.
The guys play a mix of old and new numbers and every song has the place in fine voice singing along, it’s a rare thing to see a crowd so invested in a band’s catalogue, and even with the new music being so fresh they are all singing back to the band at the top of their voices, the guys even give the audience an opportunity to pick a number or two to hear that isn’t in their usual set, the songs live translate so well, from the blistering guitar work of Dan Jabob’s swinging that multi cloured Kiesel around to Travis Miguel laying down the thick riffage and of course a solid and savage Kyle Rosa on drums as a band in a intimate venue such as The LL2 in Belfast, this is as good as it gets.
Both Brandon and Bassist Marc McKnight both do walk-abouts through the crowd, Brandon takes his time covering every inch of the venue and continuing to hang out in the crowd, before he climbs up on top of the bar to rapturous applause, Marc whilst sharing vocals at different times, on older tracks for example whilst Brandon gets behind the drums once again and Kyle takes the bass to allow Marc to shine up front, if you blinked you wouldnt know what was going on as each band members job was interchangeable just mixing it up at will and keeping Belfast on their toes. The sound, savage, the performance, memorable, the California charm, relentless.
One of the stand out gigs of the year for me, from start to finish, Atreyu showed us how to do it. Entertaining the masses, humble whilst delivering a stunning live performance with ease. I for one look forward to their return, bigger venue, bigger crowd, old-friends reunited. Lets do it!
Atreyu have announced their ninth studio album ‘The Beautiful Dark Of Life’ will be out 8th December via Spinefarm. It’s the culmination of the band’s recent three-part EP series and the double LP is available in multiple colours on vinyl and CD to pre-order now and the album can be pre-saved on DSPs. Atreyu have just hit the road for a mammoth UK and European headline tour and they’ve also been announced on the 2024 line-up of the iconic Download Festival in the UK.
“‘The Beautiful Dark Of Life’ is the journey we are all on,” said frontman Brandon Saller. “It is the journey we have taken the audience on through the three EPs: the highs, lows, and lessons of life. And much like living through them, you don’t gain a full understanding of what it all means without the whole picture. This album is that picture.”
“We wanted each EP to have its own space to exist, for every song to find its audience and connect with people in its own right. But then when those songs are later collected together in the shape of the album, it will be an ‘A-ha!’ moment where we hope people will rediscover them in a new light, and find something in them all over again,” said bassist/vocalist, Porter McKnight.
The album features sonic numbers that touch every corner of the heavy music sphere – from metal to punk and alternative, via ’80s classic rock and with shades of industrial, hip-hop, and unashamed pop – speaking more than ever to a generation of music fans who care little for the traditional constraints of genre.
Through the expression of deeply personal feelings and emotions, the album is soul-baring and empathetic and offers escapism, and empowerment through songs that speak openly about anxiety, depression, self-belief, love, and identity that includes three new songs – ‘Dancing With My Demons,’ ‘Insomnia’ and the title track.
“I was walking with my young daughter one day when we went under a bridge,” said Saller. “She pointed at something and said, ‘Daddy, what’s that?’ I told her, ‘That’s a shadow, honey.’ And she turned to me and said, ‘Shadows are the beautiful dark of life,’” in discussing the album title.
“These songs are the culmination of our entire artistic endeavors,” McKnight attests. “It’s everything we’ve learned as humans, everything we’ve ingested as musicians and everything we’ve experienced in this lifetime. It is ATREYU unleashed.”
ATREYU ushered in a new movement in heavy music. Their music seamlessly intertwines with formative experiences for a diverse legion of dedicated listeners, many of whom started their own bands. They’ve broken into the Top 10 in the Billboard 200 more than once; two of their albums, ‘The Curse’ and ‘Lead Sails Paper Anchor’, are certified gold with two million albums sold worldwide and an encompassing 600 million streams. Their most recent album, ‘Baptize’ has clocked 65 million streams alongside a Top 10 at rock radio hit with ‘Warrior’ featuring Travis Barker.
Where once the band was heralded as the early innovators of the nascent metalcore scene, their place in heavy music’s diverse and boundary-breaking scene has never felt more relevant, with inspirations of pop-punk, hardcore, thrash, ‘80s rock, and more melding into a unique and varied sound that has never felt more relevant than in today’s increasingly genreless world.
With a 20-year career and eight acclaimed albums in the rear-view mirror, ATREYU in 2023 are focused only on the present and the future, and a mission to continue shaping and defining the rock and metal scene, just as they have always done since their emergence from Huntington Beach in Southern California.
Together, frontman Brandon Saller, guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, bassist Porter McKnight and drummer Kyle Rosa are one of the most respected names and potent forces in heavy music, and their live show is one of the most heralded on the touring circuit.