Atreyu's Lead Sails Paper Anchor is a decent album. The problem? It would be a much more consistent and stronger one if producer John Feldmann had settled on one sound -- slick or raw -- because it can't be both. (For the record, the rougher moments on the album do give Atreyu more vitality.) It isn't even a case of different songs having different production values, which would have made for a difficult, but ultimately forgivable, listen. Instead, these switches in sound occur multiple times, often in the same song. It's noticeable right from the beginning with opening number "Doomsday." During the verses, guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel crunch away while Alex Varkatzas' raspy vocals add texture and grit, but as soon as the chorus hits, the sound abruptly becomes slick and restrained. It's not on the part of the musicians, either -- it's very obviously a recording effect. It's a trend that is repeated throughout Lead Sails Paper Anchor, reining in Atreyu's hard and heavy sound to the album's detriment. By holding the band back, the album never achieves any sort of critical mass. Fortunately, Lead Sails Paper Anchor isn't a bland effort, and this helps to compensate somewhat, even if some of the songs seem a little out of place. ("Falling Down," which sounds a little too punk-pop for this collection, is a prime example.) "Lose It" is a particularly intriguing number, beginning with layered and distorted guitars before bursting into a brief flurry of heavy riffs. This, in turn, gives way to haunted verses, a rough, aggressive chorus, and an eerie bridge section featuring echoing harmonies and hand claps. "Blow" is another highlight, though for completely different reasons -- the big, juicy guitar riffs, a singalong (though hardly family-friendly) chorus, and a healthy dose of cowbell all add up for a rousing, arena-ready showstopper. Both are unencumbered by the restraining effects placed on most of the other pieces, giving a glimpse of what this album could have been. Fans may have to wait for a live album or a concert ticket to hear what Atreyu are really capable of doing with this material.
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AllMusic Review by Katherine Fulton