Atreyu frontman Alex Varkatzas says clean vocals in metalcore music have become “whiny and annoying” in recent years.
He admits his own band fell victim to the mistake after finding it difficult to go against the wishes of their record label. And he wishes more bands would return to the formula as used by Killswitch Engage’s Jesse Leach and ex Howard Jones.
Atreyu released sixth album Long Live in September 2015, following a four-year hiatus in which he believes the approach to vocals has changed for the worse.
Varkatzas tells Banger TV: “Since our break, the way it’s evolved, it’s got really whiny. The melodic vocals are super-fucking whiny and annoying in a lot of bands.
“I think that’s a shitty direction. I like a Killswitch Engage vocal, like Jesse or Howard. You can sing and have clean vocals, and make it really fucking powerful.”
He blames record labels for what he sees as a wrong turn. “The first Atreyu record was 100% aggression,” he recalls. “On A Death-Grip On Yesterday I started to do a little bit of melody, but not really singing.
“Then when you go to a major label, they’re like, ‘We need to do this, we need to do that, you’ve got to change this.’ You have to try to get your record done no matter what.”
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He accepts that’s what happened to Atreyu with the recording of 2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor, explaining: “It was moderately successful – Falling Down was No.3 on alternative rock radio. If you’re a label guy that’s really cool.
“We did it, then I wanted to get away from it. Once you dip into that well it’s hard to break free. It’s hard to go to your major label and say, ‘This next record’s going to be super fucking metal.’ No one wants to hear that.”
Varkatzas says the result was that “I lost my way a little bit” and adds: “I wasn’t comfortable with our music as much.
“Now we’re at a point where I get to be me and do what I want – and what I want is to be aggressive and emotional.
“But I don’t want to be emotional in a weak way. I want to be emotional in a passionate way. For me, that’s screaming, yelling and emoting not in a melodic way. I don’t want to do that shit any more.”
He continues: “Now I’m super-stoked. Our music’s the best it’s ever been. I tell people it’s good – I go, ‘Man, it’s really good.’ In past I would never say that.”
Atreyu are expected to record their seventh album next year.