Touchy, Feely

Atreyu find the sweet spot between metal and emo.

In the past week, I've seen two kids wearing Atreyu T-shirts, and they both tried to sell me weed. Atreyu are the latest almost-stars of Victory Records, a Chicago label specializing in bands like Thursday and Taking Back Sunday, and the group's two albums reflect the budding emo-metal revolution with harmonic choruses, death-metal-lite growls, drop-tuned riffs, and finger-tapped guitar solos. This is the Nirvana template of the '00s tween-rocker: aggro verses for the stoners and sweetly melodic choruses for the girls they want to fuck—which is where the ad hoc, weed-slinging street punk team of two white teenage boys with acne scars and Snapcase patches comes in.

Musically, metal and emo can fit together quite well. Take "Right Side of the Bed," the first single from Atreyu's new album, The Curse (Victory). Opening with chugga-chugging riffs and singer Alex Varkatzas' phlegmy gem of a yawp, the song eases for the poppy chorus, sweetly belted out by drummer Brandon Saller, before Judas Priest–ing a middle-eight that turns into a hand-clapped 24.

Ideologically, metal and emo pair even better, though their approaches significantly vary. Both are very chauvinistic genres—sung at, not for, women; females welcome as muses or worshippers, not musicians—even if emo cloaks its libido in sensitivity seminars and Asian beards. Metal's oversized codpiece might clash with emo's droopy Seven jeans, but there's no mistaking the randy dick in both.

That makes Atreyu a droopy codpiece, which suits the passive-aggro of "The Crimson" pretty damn well. Varkatzas unintelligibly screams in anguish before Saller croons, "Will you still hold me/When you see what I have done?" So long as you keep wearing those cute black-suit-and-red-tie combos, sure, boys. The best song on The Curse, "You Eclipsed by Me," equates parents ("So kiss the ring, motherfucker/It's my time to shine"), an ex-girlfriend ("Every tear I never cried/ Has sealed your fucking fate"), and Satan ("You built me, constructed my desire/Perfected my hatred") to a background of alpha male riffing, beta male harmonies, and mockingly gorgeous "ooohs." Pity their girlfriends, siblings, baby-sitters, and politics, all right—but bow to their righteous wrath.

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