On their latest effort, Atreyu come with more of the same metalcore that listeners have come to expect from the band. All of the familiar elements are in place, with the alternating screaming/soaring vocals, thundering double bass drumming, and big, crunchy riffage. The difference here is that the band seems to have mellowed out a bit, opting for a more melodic approach, which is both good and bad. While it's interesting to see a band grow and deviate from its tried and true formula, this album feels a little toothless. The acerbic fire of their earlier work has been all but snuffed out, at times feeling more like hard rock than metal. Like their last album, the songs here feel somewhat restrained, like they're just dying to break free of the polished production. The intensity of Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses seems to have been put out to pasture, with the songs feeling more deliberately poppy. That being said, Congregation of the Damned isn't necessarily a bad record, and there are certainly flashes of the younger, more visceral and cathartic Atreyu here and there. There are some solid breakdowns to sink your teeth into, and the choruses are still huge and anthemic, but the rest might be a little too watered down for serious metalcore devotees. If you're really hungry for more Atreyu after Lead Sails Paper Anchor, then Congregation will be a no-brainer. For lapsed fans or people looking for something heavier, this one is probably a pass.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney