This album has everything a good hardcore album needs: a solid sound, a guest vocalist (Efrem Schultz of Death by Stereo) and lots of technical know-how. Brandon Saller's (drums/vocals) smooth harmonic melodies balance Alex Varkatzas' (vocals) intense yelling just perfectly. Each song is penned by Varkatzas, filled with sincerity and emotion. The lyrics are quite poetic, with lines like "Your thorns caress my flesh / crimson drops o­n a snowy field" ("Tulips Are Better") and "The fear of romance / the pain of living / the joy of sorrow / the strength of not forgiving" ("A Vampire's Lament"). Dan Jacobs (guitar), Travis Miguel (guitar) and Chris Thomson (bass) play with incredible finesse. Much attention is paid to tempo variation and intricate chord changes. A particularly cool guitar solo-turned-duo radiates o­n "Deanne The Arsonist". These driving guitar riffs, along with pounding drumbeats, are often offset by intense, yet delicate musical breakdowns. The most interesting example of this is heard o­n "Lip Gloss And Black", where the soft sound of a piano soothes all chaos. "Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses" is actually teetering o­n the melodic side. Atreyu have found a nice mix of brutally hard rock with just the right amount of sentiment, being careful not to come off as trendy. There are even a few riffs that are fairly upbeat and peppy, but somehow Atreyu makes it all work. Songs that will blow your mind are: "A Song For The Optimists", "Ain't Love Grand", "Deanne The Arsonist", and "Lip Gloss And Black."

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