For the first time in four years they took the stage together, and from the opening chords of ‘Creature,’ it felt as Atreyu had never really left. The news several months ago that the Orange County metalcore stalwarts would be on the bill at this weekend’s Aftershock Festival in Sacramento created lots of buzz, but the boys snuck in a hometown warm-up gig on Thursday (Sept. 11) that sold out in under one minute.

For all of the hardcore fans, friends and family that packed the dark, dank punk dungeon called Chain Reaction in Anaheim, it was arguably a show they'll never forget.

The tiny but important club has been a stomping ground for many an up-and-coming band, and Atreyu had not played there for more than 10 years. Taking the stage just after 9PM, they plowed through a sweat-soaked, workmanlike 17-song set featuring many crowd favorites including ‘Crimson,’ ‘Bleeding Mascara,’ ‘Blow,’ ‘Gallows,’ ‘Right Side of the Bed’ and the just-released tribute to soldiers, ‘So Others May Live.’

The love and respect flowed back and forth between band and crowd amidst flying bodies and full throated sing-alongs. Atreyu was loose but still sharp, and the fans received them like war heroes returning home.

Frontman Alex Varkatzas was commanding and confident, yet still seemed taken aback with all the emotion that floods forth when you're back in a familiar place with lots of old faces. He also mentioned from the stage that Atreyu is currently working on a new album set for release next year. Varkatzas and the entire band -- guitarists Dan Jacobs, Travis Miguel, bassist Marc McKnight and Brandon Saller hidden behind the drums -- were all soaking wet by the end of the set, but the tropical room conditions did nothing to temper their still-blistering intensity. The ceilings, walls and floors were all dripping wet; and the air was thick with old-school Atreyu.

Outside the club after the set, it was still a muggy 86 degrees, but it felt cool and refreshing after Atreyu cranked the heat up inside. Next stop, Aftershock Festival in Sacramento this weekend, where no doubt they'll do it all over again, outdoors and for 100 times the amount of people. Welcome back, Atreyu. We’ve missed you.

Atreyu Concert Photos:

Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire
Chris Epting for Loudwire