Metal isn't just alive in idyllic suburban Orange County—it thrives, thanks to the perfect incubator for ungodly racket like Atreyu and Bleeding Through, the county's strongest entries in the metalcore game and quite possibly the sickest thing in all hard music. But between these two, who is the most killer, bad-ass full-on evil, you ask?
Most Improved Player? When comparing Atreyu's 2002 debut Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses to new drop The Curse, you're talking about a quantum leap in progress. "That's because with Suicide Notes, we didn't know what we were doing," says guitarist Travis Miguel. "Plus we only had two weeks to do it." By their own admission, Bleeding Through's aesthetic has remained static: "We're pretty much doing what we've always done," says guitarist Brandan Schieppati. Round 1: Atreyu! Who's Heavier? "I have an ESP that I run through Peavey 5152 heads, which may not be the best stack, but they're loud as fuck," says Travis, who can blind you with tech talk all he wants. But if you pop in any Bleeding Through CD, you've got your answer: they've got the market cornered on brutality, vocal-, tempo- and decibel-wise. Round 2: Bleeding Through! Who's Wankier? While The Curse is a satisfying slab of grind, it's also unafraid of fret-burning filigree straight outta Cinderella or Poison. In lead guitarist Dan Jacobs' carpal tunnel-ruined hands, however, the solos are compressed, not show-offy. As a policy, Bleeding Through doesn't do solos. Round 3:Atreyu by default! Who Drops More Props to Local Elders?For influence, Atreyu looked north—to Bay Area thrashers Metallica, Megadeth and Machine Head. But that doesn't mean they don't give credit where credit is due: "Death By Stereo were like older brothers to us," says Miguel. (In fact, Death By Stereo singer Efrem Schulz lent a vocal track to Suicide Notes.) Says Bleeding Through's Brandan: "Ignite was a huge inspiration for us, and so was Unbroken. But before that, I was into TSOL and Social Distortion." Still, despite Brandan's name-checking of hometown heroes, that influence isn't much apparent in his band's hybrid of grindcore and black metal. Both bands understand where they're from, but they don't have to sound like it. Round 4: Tie! Who's the Most Morally Corrupt?Forget the Transylvanian chick on The Curse's cover—the song titles alone give away Atreyu's unhealthy obsessions with such things as blood ("Blood Children," "Bleeding Mascara"), female sin ("Corseting," "Demonology and Heartache") and death's sweet oblivion ("This Flesh a Tomb"). While Bleeding Through's This Is Love, This Is Murderous is more sonically crushing than The Curse, it's basically a relationships album—-emo in the guise of head-banging. Nice try, though. Round 5:Atreyu! Who's Gonna Blow Up? Right now, our contestants are in a dead heat: both have roughly the same hype and critical praise; they'll co-headline the House of Blues this week; both play Second Stage at Ozzfest this summer. Though Atreyu leads in sales with Suicide Notes, SoundScanning more than 100,000 copies, it's not a given they'll double that figure with The Curse. But considering it's at least twice as good as Suicide Notes, how could it not? Round 6: Atreyu! And the Most Killer, Bad-Ass Full-On Evil Award Goes to: Please, would your mom and dad ask who you loved more? Through the fights and the tears, the disappointments and good times, we've come to know and appreciate both of these terrific OC bands. In music, it's not a question of who's better, it's—aw, fuck it: Atreyu wins!
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Atreyu performs with Bleeding Through at the House Of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-Blue. Fri., 8 p.m. $13.50-$15. All ages.