Former Atreyu Singer Rescinds His ‘Invented Metalcore’ Claim – ‘I Say Stupid S**t Sometimes’
The year was 2018, Alex Varkatzas was still a member of Atreyu, making the rounds promoting the band's latest record at the time, In Our Wake, when he made a claim that in an interview that his band "invented metalcore." That certainly shook up the news cycle for a bit with social media abuzz over who truly were the originators of the metalcore scene and sound. Flash forward to 2023 and Varkatzas now admits the "invented metalcore" claim was unfounded and just more getting caught up in the promotion of a new record. It's a lesson he says he's since learned from.
Varkatzas, now fronting his own solo group Dead Icarus, revisited his metalcore claim with Talk Toomey podcast host Joshua Toomey (as heard below). When the subject came up, the singer admitted, “I say stupid shit sometimes. Like I said I invented metalcore once. You can call me out on that if you want, it’s fine.”
Elaborating on those comments, he added, “My thoughts on it are like, we rode on the backs of other bands that we liked at the same time. There were bands that were coming up doing the same thing. And at that time, I think that screaming and singing together was like kinda that bridge that made it a little different. But no, I mean, I didn’t invent anything. I also didn’t invent chopping the water when you have a new record coming out."
Varkatzas says, "Like most people I think who know me, know that me saying that ‘I invented metalcore’ is fucking ridiculous. Because I don’t care. Metalcore wasn’t even a coined term when bands like Lamb of God and all that… They were calling it like the ‘new wave of American heavy metal ‘— ’cause that sounds way cooler, right? I’m chopping the water, trying to make business for… You know at the time Atreyu wasn’t exactly killing it. So, you got a new record coming out, you gotta get a little resourceful."
The singer says he learned his lesson from making the claim, explaining, "I learned from that to not try to play the heel, to not be disgenuine to myself, and that’s the major lesson. I kinda deserve whatever lumps or anything anybody wanted to say about it, because it was like a callous thing. But at the same time I think that people that know me, know that that was bullshit. And people who don’t know me are more than happy to throw stones anyway."
"So it’s kinda like it is what it is. I gave some people some ammo for years to come in the bottom of messageboards and stuff. What’s life without a little chopping the water, you know what I mean? I learned from it.”
What Did Alex Varkatzas Initially Say?
While speaking to Rock Sound back in 2018, the vocalist reflected on Atreyu's place in their music scene, noting, "I don’t know where we fit in any scene and I don’t think that any scene knows where we fit. I think that’s just part of us. This is going to sound a little cocky but I’m a singer in a band. I don’t think we fit into any genre. I think we are hard to pin down."
He then added, "When we first started it was a little easier. We were a metallic hardcore band with singing parts. There wasn’t any else like that when we were doing it. People get confused and say ‘You’re a metalcore band,' but we invented metalcore. That may sound cocky but I don’t care. We pre-date Poison the Well and Killswitch Engage and all those bands. I’ve been doing this since I was literally 12 years old."
What Was the Response to Alex Varkatzas' Initial Claims of Having "Invented Metalcore"?
The singer's claims became social media fodder for a period, with one of Varkatzas' peers entering the conversation online as well. Bad Wolves' Doc Coyle, who also had his own podcast and previously played in God Forbid, noted on Twitter with a wink and a smile emoji, "Everyone knows I invented metalcore," before offering a more to-the-point reflection on metalcore's beginnings.
"In all seriousness, in the modern sense of what metalcore means - technical, metallic, thrash inspired riffing combined with breakdowns & the energy of hardcore & also a blend of screamed & melodic vocals - I think these 2 bands invented (modern metalcore)," stated Coyle, then pointing to Overcast and Cave In.
Coyle went on to cite Starkweather, Converge, Vision of Disorder, Earth Crisis and Rorschach as "honorable mentions" from metalcore's early days in a follow-up comment.
What Is Alex Varkatzas Up to Presently?
After sharing vocal duties with Brandon Saller, providing a rough / clean dynamic with Atreyu over the years, Varkatzas exited Atreyu in the fall of 2020. At the time of his exit, Varkatzas had been discussing another possible project, and now, in 2023, he has returned with the band moniker Dead Icarus.
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Gallery Credit: John Hill, Loudwire