When Atreyu’s 2007 album, Lead Sails Paper Anchor, released it certainly was a critical success, but was met with sneers of derision from a wide berth of mainstream rock and media outlets. For them, it was a too sugary sweet pop-rock departure from the band’s straight up metalcore roots. But in today’s age where more emphasis is put on pure banger appreciation, this album deserves to be right up there alongside records like Avenged Sevenfold’s self titled record. It’s a record that is pure hard rock fun; full front to back of some of the best hooks of the late 2000s. It’s also a record that introduced many a fan to the world of heavy music; a gateway drug of sorts. On top of all of that, it’s the record that has been the greatest success for the band, going gold and delivering their most mainstream exposure. And it’s this album that Atreyu played front to back for the very first time on their second night of their Carry The Fire livestream.
Coming in knowing exactly how long the show would be and what songs would be played definitely worked to the band’s advantage this time around, as there didn’t seem to be any hurt feelings about length or song choice like night one. And from the first notes of 'Doomsday', it was immediately apparent how much the band loves this album. The energy was up once again, and their video screen and light effects were on point once again. The issue of bassist Porter McKnight’s screams not quite fitting the vibe of the band’s songs also was dampened in this show, as the record is clean singing heavy. And from that first song, front man Brandon Saller adds his magic to the hook laden album. 'Doomsday' is hard charging and aggressive, leading into a soaring chorus that Saller nails each time. It was a mission statement for the night, and an early highlight.
Even the less memorable tracks from the album like next track 'Honor' had their hook first sensibility thrust to the forefront as the band nails the harmonies in another earworm of a chorus, leading in two of the band’s most famous tracks. 'Falling Down' was a swaggering, sleazy ball of pure joy and one of the bounciest and most catchy rock tracks of the last half of the 2000s. The band crushed it on this song with their exuberant gang vocals, and the video screen full of swing dancing dandies added an extra spring in the step. 'Becoming The Bull' was certainly one of the highlights. Another huge single, Saller goes beyond expectations filling in for former vocalist Alex Varkatzas’ clean vocal passages, and both guitarists sound excellent playing with dynamics. It was a pure trip back to high school in the best way possible.
'When Two Are One' easily wins best track performed through the whole night. The guitars were simply electric (no pun intended) as Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel show their true chops on the runs up and down the fret board. Featuring one of the best choruses on the whole album, Saller nails it again and shows that when corona is over, this a band whose new lineup is absolutely worth seeing. It’s record quality. It’s at this point the band also invites the audience at home to do a circle pit or a wall of death at home, matching the scenes shown on the video screen. And lo, how we all wish we could join in.
At this point, it’s been banger after banger from a band in top form. The show really lived and died with the momentum of the album. 'Lose It', the next track up, was never one of the stronger melodic tracks and never jumped off the album. Such is the case on this stream, Saller and co. do as good a job as they can bringing the energy, but the song never shows a strong identity. 'No One Cares', however, is an underrated gem of a song with another banging chorus and a real sense of thrust and energy. It’s short and sweet and when even a forgotten B-side sounds this good live, it’s a testament to just how good the songwriting and melodic sensibility is on this album. It’s a live debut as well, and one that sounds just as good live as on the record.
Just like last show, Saller takes one song to hop on the drums and sing at the same time, as he used to in the band. 'Can’t Happen Here', is a good choice for this, as it’s the heaviest song on the record and Porter McKnight up front does a good job here. Another live debut, it’s evident this is a song the band should bring out more often. Special recognition goes out to guitarist Dan Jacobs for nailing the harmonies all night, especially on the next track 'Slow Burn' is anything but. It’s a fun, mid tempo romp from the band that sounds so great thanks to those harmonies, really elevating it to another highlight performance.
The hits just keep on coming with 'Blow', perhaps the most fun that the band has all night, and that’s saying something considering the fun they’ve had playing the rest of the record. This was the full showcase for the whole band more than any other song, and everyone sounds on point, especially Jacobs, fellow guitarist Travis Miguel, and Saller. It’s down and dirty rock and roll elevated by an amazing vocal performance and some downright filthy, slinky guitar work. If this song is new to readers, it’s an automatic pick me up worthy of discovery in these dark times. Alas, all good things have to come to an end, and ''Lead Sails Paper Anchor' is a lovely, swooning ending that the band professes to be one of their favorites to play, despite being only the second time. By the end it's soaring, and the audience is left wishing, like Saller jokes, that the band had written more songs for this album.
Lead Sails Paper Anchor is a phenomenal record that was discarded as a band selling out and serving up radio friendly fodder. Well there’s no shame in that from a band with this good of an ear and a talent for hooks, and after a performance like this, it’s high time this record is enshrined in the museum of straight up bangers, wherever that is. Night two of Carry The Fire was a band having a ludicrous amount of fun playing a record that is more than just a flash in the pan. It’s a record that highlights the best of what Atreyu can do, with each band member getting a chance to shine, and it’s a much better reminder than night one that this is a group whose talent is still on the upswing all these years later. It was a straight up blast, just like the record.